Epilepsy and COVID-19: Risks, Vaccination and Safety

COVID-19 is a disease that can cause a wide variety of symptoms. While most people with SARS-CoV-2 infection will not experience any symptoms related to the brain or nervous system, in rare cases COVID-19 can cause seizures.

Many people may have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms for up to 2 weeks. The symptoms can vary from person to person and usually includes flu or cold symptoms. However, proof suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can access the brain and affect a person’s nervous system, causing neurological symptoms.

Research shows neurological complications from COVID-19 varies from mild symptoms, such as headache, dizziness and loss of smell, to more serious complications, including stroke and seizures.

In this article, we discuss the link between COVID-19 and epileptic seizures and look at the potential risks that COVID-19 poses to people with epilepsy.

Anyone can contract a SARS-CoV-2 infection and develop COVID-19. some individuals — including those who are older, have a weakened immune system, or have underlying health conditions such as: diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory diseases, or cancer — may be at higher risk for COVID-19 and its possible complications. However, no current evidence indicates that individuals with epilepsy have an increased risk.

In addition, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) states that there is currently no evidence of an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in people with epilepsy. The organization adds that epilepsy is unlikely to increase the risk of complications unless a person has a compromised immune system or other ongoing medical challenges. It also notes that anticonvulsants do not increase the risk of infection or complications.

Experts know that coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, attack the nervous system. a look back Case Series 2020 notes that 36.4% of participants with COVID-19 had neurological manifestations, including seizures.

In addition, the ILAE notes that most people with epilepsy have a risk, albeit low, that seizures will get worse if they get SARS-CoV-2 infection. This is possible because illness, especially with a fever, can put a strain on the body and increase the risk and frequency of seizures.

COVID-19 can also cause symptoms, including: fever, lack of sleep, and fatigue, that’s allowed provoke attacks and make them longer and more intense. However, a 2020 review suggests that the risk of having COVID-19-related attacks is low unless a person is critically ill or in the terminal stage of illness.

A 2019 study found that: 8-34% of critically ill patients have seizures. These individuals may develop serious symptoms such as low blood oxygen levels, shock, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, metabolic and disturbance of the electrolyte balanceand multi-organ damage, which can cause seizures in people with or without epilepsy.

AN study 2021 also indicates that inflammation of the brain or the membranes surrounding it — known as encephalitis and meningitis, respectively — is the most common neurological complication of COVID-19. The second most common symptom of this complication is seizures.

AN joint statement of the ILAE and the International Bureau of Epilepsy confirm that all persons with epilepsy should receive the vaccine unless they are allergic to the ingredients of the vaccine.

At the moment there is no proof to indicate that having epilepsy is associated with a higher risk of potential side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, including seizures. AN study 2021 in Germany found that the vaccine is well tolerated in people with epilepsy, with only 2 out of 54 patients experiencing epilepsy-related side effects.

However, as with any vaccine, a fever can develop as a side effect, which can lower the seizure threshold in some people. Taking acetaminophen or acetaminophen regularly for 48 hours after the vaccine, or for the duration of the fever, should minimize this risk.

Most health experts advise that for people with epilepsy, the risk of COVID-19 and its potential complications far outweighs the potential risk of vaccine side effects.

The ILAE states that there is no proof to suggest that antiepileptic drugs may increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or potential complications.

although a 2020 study Stresses the importance of considering potential side effects and drug interactions in people with epilepsy who contract SARS-CoV-2 infection, most guidelines to advise that people take medicines regularly to minimize the risk of seizures worsening.

There have been occasional reports of people having seizures for the first time after recovering from COVID-19. Some proof suggests that seizures may be a possible manifestation of long COVID.

AN Case Study 2020 reports on a person experiencing refractory status epilepticus due to post-infectious inflammation after recovery from COVID-19. Another case study from 2021, it concerns a person who has an epileptic seizure after recovery from COVID-19.

The best way to prevent attacks due to SARS-CoV-2 infection is to avoid and limit exposure to the virus as much as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people help protect themselves and others by:

  • get a vaccination
  • wear a mask
  • observe physical distance
  • limiting their presence in poorly ventilated areas and crowded places
  • wash your hands often
  • regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
  • observing proper cough and sneeze etiquette
  • perform daily health monitoring

People who notice that fever, infection and stress trigger their seizures may wish to see a doctor for specific recommendations and a plan of action. People with epilepsy are advised to avoid crowded spaces, continue with their medical appointments, take their prescription drugs, and make sure they have enough medications.

If a person has a loved one with epilepsy who lives in a long-term care facility or group, he or she should confirm safety measures with the facility and ask the care team if any adjustments are needed.

There is some evidence that seizures may be a rare neurological symptom that can occur during SARS-CoV-2 infection or after COVID-19 recovery.

People with epilepsy have no increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or complications from COVID-19. Health experts advise that individuals receive the vaccine and continue to take their anti-seizure medications.

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