Halloween is fun for kids and adults alike and allows us to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties, and indulge in treats. However, if you have epilepsy, Halloween may be challenging and sometimes even a little bit scary. But have no fear, simply follow some of our tips below:
Tip One – Remember Your Medications: Halloween may be chaotic at times which might lead to forgetting take medication. However, it’s important to remember to take your medication on time and at the correct dosage as prescribed to you by your health care provider since missed medication is one of the most common seizure triggers1. You can click here for more information on medications and epilepsy.
Tip Two – Get Enough Sleep: The fun and excitement that Halloween brings may result in not getting enough sleep or having poor sleep. However, it’s important to try not to deter too much from your regular sleep routine, especially since sleep deprivation is one of the most common seizure triggers2. You can click here for more information on sleep and epilepsy.
Tip Three – Avoid Known Seizure Triggers: Halloween may be full of potential seizure triggers. Some seizure triggers can include missed medication; sleep deprivation; flashing lights; stress; illness or fever; hormonal changes; drug interactions; alcohol and/or drug use; hyperventilation; dehydration; overheating; or low blood sugar3. You can click here for more information on seizure triggers. If you have known triggers for your seizures, it is important for you to try and avoid these. For example, if you are one of the 3-5% of people living with epilepsy who has photosensitive epilepsy and have seizures that are triggered by flashing, flickering, or strobe lights4, try to avoid Halloween attractions that use them, such as haunted houses. You can click here for more information on photosensitive epilepsy. Also, try and avoid alcohol and/or drug use as they have been known to exacerbate seizures5. You can click here for more information on epilepsy and alcohol and drugs.
Tip Four – Use the Buddy System: Whether you are trick-or-treating or going to a costume party, you should use the buddy system and always go with someone who is aware that you have epilepsy and knows what to do in the event that you should have a seizure.
Tip Five – Reduce Stress: Sometimes, Halloween can be stressful, which is known to exacerbate seizures6. You can prevent stress by keeping to local areas and well-known environments and avoiding unfamiliar places. You can click here for more information on epilepsy and stress.
Tip Six – Medical Identification: It can be helpful to wear a medical identification bracelet that way the others around you will be aware that you have epilepsy7. You can click here for more information on medical identification and epilepsy.
Tip Seven – Wallet Card or Lock Screen: So that people aware of important information like what to do should you have a seizure around them, you can also carry a wallet card that has your emergency contact information, steps for seizure first aid, names and dosages of your medications, and other such information. You can also put this information on the lock screen of your smartphone and can find an article by CBC News about a person with epilepsy from Prince Edward Island who did this here8.
Tip Eight – Safety Devices: Something helpful to use is a safety device like a seizure detection device, which is a device that can assist in detecting when a seizure takes place9. Some seizure detection devices can even notify a caregiver that a seizure is occurring/has occurred so that they will be made aware should a seizure occur. You can click here for more information on safety devices and epilepsy.
Tip Nine – Dietary Therapy: People living with epilepsy that are using dietary therapy like the Ketogenic Diet as a treatment option for their epilepsy unfortunately would not be able to partake in eating candy10. However, that doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on trick-or-treating with their friends. They can still go trick-or-treating but, at the end of the night, they can “trade in” their candy with their parents for things like keto-friendly treats or non-food items like games of toys.
People with epilepsy are still able to participate in Halloween celebrations and it is also important to keep in mind that even if someone has epilepsy with uncontrolled seizures and/or other co-existing health issues, it is still important for them to be included in social activities with their peers.
However, if you are not well enough to go out trick-or-treating or for a Halloween party this year, there are still many fun Halloween activities that can be done from the comfort of your own home, including watching Halloween themed movies (click here11 for some ideas) or playing Halloween themed trivia (click here12 for some ideas).
Also, if you are looking for a fun Halloween activity to do this year, you can try entering our BCES Pumpkin Contest! All you have to do is carve an epilepsy-related pumpkin or paint a pumpkin purple. Then take a photo of your creation and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. After, that all entries will be placed in a draw for a chance to win a $25 gift card. We can’t wait to see your amazing photos! Entries will be accepted until Monday October 31st at 11:59 PM PST.
We hope that our tips help everyone to have a fun, enjoyable and safe Halloween this year!
1. Paschal, A. M., Rush, S. E., & Sadler, T. (2014). Factors associated with medication adherence in patients with epilepsy and recommendations for improvement. Epilepsy & Behavior, 31, 346-350.
2. Çilliler, A. E., & Güven, B. (2020). Sleep quality and related clinical features in patients with epilepsy: a preliminary report. Epilepsy & Behavior, 102, 106661.
3. Ge, A. et al. (2017). Seizure triggers in epilepsy patients: a national perspective (S37.002). Neurology, 88(16 Supplement), S37.002
4. Da Silva, A.M., & Leal, B. (2017). Photosensitivity and epilepsy: current concepts and perspectives – a narrative review. Seizure, 50, 209-218.
5. Leach, J.P., Mohanraj, R. & Borland, W. (2012). Alcohol and drugs in epilepsy: pathophysiology, presentation, possibilities, and prevention. Epilepsia, 53, 48-57.
6. Lang, J.D., Taylor, D.C. & Kasper, B.S. (2018). Stress, seizures, and epilepsy: patient narratives. Epilepsy & Behavior, 80, 163-172.
7. Allen, J. (2002). An identification system for hidden conditions. Practice Nursing, 13(12), 562-563.
8. Umana, Y. (2021). A P.E.I. woman has a safety measure for those who are prone to seizures. CBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-seizures-epilepsy-help-1.6265723
9. Shum, J., & Friedman, D. (2021). Commercially available seizure detection devices: A systematic review. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 428, 117611.
10. Pawlicki, B. et al. (2019). Ketogenic diet in pediatric patients with epilepsy. Journal of Education, Health and Sport, 9(7), 294-298.
11. Lascala, M. & Puckett-Pope, L. (2022). 60 best Halloween movies, from old classics to new cult favorites. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved from: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/g29579568/classic-halloween-movies/
12. Sager, J. (2022). 50 Halloween trivia questions and answers to get you ready for the scariest day of the year. Parade. Retrieved from: https://parade.com/1066846/jessicasager/halloween-trivia/