Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Warning of epilepsy drowning risk

Emma Wilkinson
Health reporter, BBC News

Female swimmer
People with epilepsy should take precautions when swimming

People with epilepsy are up to 19 times more likely to drown than those in the general population, research suggests.

A University College London review of 51 studies from around the world showed 88 deaths where five would be expected, adding many could have been prevented.

Taking showers instead of baths and swimming with a friend could save lives in the event of a seizure, suggests the report in Neurology journal.

Epilepsy affects around one in every 131 people in the UK. People with the condition are more at risk of accidental death and a higher chance of drowning had been reported, but the risk had never been quantified.

Every year a number of patients die in the bath so convincing people to take showers would be life saving
Professor Ley Sander, study leader

A team at the Institute of Neurology at University College London looked at data from 51 studies from around the world. They compared the number of deaths from drowning with what would be expected in the general population of the country involved. Overall the risk was 19 times higher for people with epilepsy and in England and Wales specifically the increased risk was 15 times higher.


Study leader Professor Ley Sander, who works part-time as an NHS consultant in epilepsy, said he had two patients die from drowning this year alone.

The numbers are relatively small but the important thing is that these deaths are preventable. Every year a number of patients die in the bath so convincing people to take showers would be life-saving. He added, "We're not saying that people shouldn't swim but that they need to be aware of the risk and to go with someone who can help if they have problems."

Professor Sander also advised telling a lifeguard if swimming at a swimming pool and to swim during quieter sessions so it was easier for the lifeguard to see them. He stressed that those most at risk were the people with "active" epilepsy and who had regular seizures.

"We always need to do whatever we can to ensure seizure control," he said.

A spokesperson for Epilepsy Action said: "People with epilepsy can enjoy the benefits of taking part in many water activities, but need to take sensible precautions to reduce risk of drowning. Because there is always a possibility that a seizure could happen, it is important not to underestimate the potential risks when in or near water."

" My Drowning Experience " by Serene

This BBC write up reminds me of my own drowning experience. Unaware that a seizure would happen so untimely when I was swimming in the water of Port Dickson, a beach resort, I almost drowned to death. If not for the swift action of my brother's friend I would be dead thirty years ago. Since that incident that almost took my life I grew to be very phobic of swimming all alone. In fact I hate to be in the sea water for the rest of my life as the water constantly reminds me of potential death at my doorstep.

I also dislike swimming all the more because every time I swim in the pool my husband or son will have to be constantly by my side all the time. This gives me a great sense of restriction and insecurity in my life which I dread. I prefer not to swim at all and choose to sit by the side of the pool looking at my husband and son swim or read my favourite book, newspaper or magazine.

Apart from swimming I have lots of other interesting and active sports to engage in. I swapped swimming for bowling. In the bowling alleys I get to enjoy bowling on my own very much. At least I won't have to have someone to keep their eyes on me like a hawk. And although I never had proper lessons in bowling I bowled freestyle in my own "Serene" ways. I enjoy a great sense of freedom in this game and always end up being happy with my bowling workout..

Epileptics can still enjoy a great sense of freedom if only they know how to. Explore, Experience and be Exhilarated with all the things we are able to do and achieve in life.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




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