Halloween is considered one of the best events of the year by children and adults alike. Partaking in activities such as dressing up in costume, going trick-or-treating, attending parties, and eating candy are fun for everyone.
However, if you have epilepsy, Halloween may be difficult to navigate and sometimes some safeguards may need to be put into place. Here are some tips and tricks from people living with epilepsy on how we can stay safe on Halloween.
Tip One: Remember to Take Your Medications: Halloween can be chaotic at times, which could lead to you forgetting to take your epilepsy medications. As missed medication is one of the most common seizure triggers1, it is important to remember to take your medication on time and at the correct dosage as prescribed to you by your health care provider. You can click here for more information on medications and epilepsy.
Tip Two: Try to Avoid Sleep Deprivation: Sometimes, the fun and excitement associated with Halloween could result in you not getting enough sleep, not being able to sleep soundly, or having poor sleep habits. As sleep deprivation is one of the most common seizure triggers2, it is important for you to try not to deter too much from your regular sleep routine on Halloween. You can click here for more information on sleep and epilepsy.
Tip Three: Use the Buddy System: You can use the buddy system by having an adult with you while you are trick-or-treating or having a friend with you while you are at a costume party. Whoever your buddy is should be aware that you have epilepsy and should know what to do in the event that you should have a seizure around them.
Tip Four: Use Medical ID: Medical identification can be helpful in letting the people around you know that you have epilepsy3. You can use a Medial ID bracelet like the ones shown here or keep a card in your wallet that has emergency contact information, seizure first aid, names and dosages of medications, and other such information. You may also choose to 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 here4.
Tip Five: Use a Seizure Detection Device: If you use a seizure detection device, this can let you know when your seizures occur and some devices can even notify your caregiver that a seizure has taken place so, even if they are not with you when the seizure happens, they can still be made aware of the seizure5. You can click here for more information on safety devices and epilepsy.
Tip Six: Avoid Flashing Lights if you are Photosensitive: If your seizures are triggered by flashing, flickering, or strobe lights, you are one of the 3-5% of people with epilepsy who experience photosensitive epilepsy6 and you should try to avoid Halloween attractions that use flashing, flickering, or strobe lights, such as haunted houses. Also, if you come across any flashing, flickering, or strobe lights, you should cover one eye with the palm of your hand and turn slowly away from the light source. Doing this reduces the number of brain cells stimulated by the lights which may prevent a seizure from happening. You can click here for more information on photosensitive epilepsy.
Tip Seven: Try to Avoid Stressful Situations: A common trigger for seizures is stress and anxiety7 and as Halloween may bring about some stressful situations, it is important to reduce seizures by decreasing stress as much as possible. You can decrease 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 Eight: Try to Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: Some people with epilepsy may choose to avoid drinking alcohol and using drugs as alcohol and drugs may exacerbate seizures8. This is why, prior to Halloween, people with epilepsy should consult their doctor about alcohol and drugs and its effect on their epilepsy and should know their limits. You can click here for more information on alcohol and drugs and their interactions with epilepsy.
Tip Nine: Make New Traditions if you are on Dietary Therapy: If you are on dietary therapy like the Ketogenic Diet to treat your epilepsy, you unfortunately would not be able to partake in eating candy9. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on trick-or-treating with their friends. You can still go trick-or-treating but, at the end of the night, you can “trade in” your candy with your parents for things like keto-friendly treats or non-food items like games of toys.
We hope that our tips help everyone to have a fun, enjoyable and safe Halloween this year!
- 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.
- Çilliler, A. E., & Güven, B. (2020). Sleep quality and related clinical features in patients with epilepsy: a preliminary report. Epilepsy & Behavior, 102, 106661.
- Allen, J. (2002). An identification system for hidden conditions. Practice Nursing, 13(12), 562-563.
- 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
- Shum, J., & Friedman, D. (2021). Commercially available seizure detection devices: A systematic review. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 428, 117611.
- Zhang, B., Chen, T., Hao, X., Xin, M., & Liang, J. (2023). Electroclinical characteristics of photosensitive epilepsy: A retrospective study of 31 Chinese children and literature review. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 11, 994817.
- Espinosa-Garcia, C., Zeleke, H., & Rojas, A. (2021). Impact of Stress on epilepsy: Focus on neuroinflammation—A mini review. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(8), 4061.
- Lennard, S., Henley, W., McLean, B., Thompson, T., Jadav, M., Laugharne, R., & Shankar, R. (2023). Risk characteristics of alcohol and/or drug misuse in repeat emergency department attendees for seizures: a case–control study. Journal of Neurology, 1-8.
- Pawlicki, B. et al. (2019). Ketogenic diet in pediatric patients with epilepsy. Journal of Education, Health and Sport, 9(7), 294-298.