If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, you may find that travel insurance is difficult to find. You will need specialist travel insurance for your epilepsy, otherwise if you need medical assistance abroad, and are not covered under your policy, this could work out very expensive. AllClear Travel specialise in providing epilepsy travel insurance, you can get an epilepsy travel insurance quote here
If you have epilepsy, you may need to do a little extra planning before going on holiday, but this is worth doing so that you can travel with peace of mind.
Planning: Make sure that you plan your trip well in advance, so that you can do everything you want to, and avoid any potential triggers
Epilepsy Travel Insurance: If you need medical treatment for your epilepsy while you are away, it can work our very expensive – specialist epilepsy travel insurance will cover you for these eventualities. Make sure you declare your epilepsy as a pre-existing medical condition when looking for travel insurance.
Sleep: Try to maintain your regular sleep patterns as sleep disruption can prompt epilepsy seizures for some people.
Don’t travel alone: If you have frequent seizures or experience loss of consciousness, confusion, or changes in behaviour during or after a seizure, you should probably have a companion with you. Your companion should know what to do in case of a seizure and should be able to explain to others around you what is happening, especially if you are flying.
Choose your mode of transportation wisely: Consider your type and frequency of seizures when making travel arrangements.
Flying: Some people with epilepsy have concerns about flying but people with epilepsy travel the world. It might be helpful to carry a doctor’s letter, giving the flight crew a few guidelines in case of a seizure during the trip. Leave yourself plenty of time for all your travelling to minimize stress on the journey. Some airlines also have additional guidelines concerning people with epilepsy. An example might be for you to sit in an aisle seat in case you have a seizure. Further details may be available from your travel agent, or directly from the airline concerned. Also, some people’s seizures are triggered by being very tired through ‘jetlag’. Seizures can also be triggered by excitement or anxiety, which can affect some people when they are flying.
Keep up with medications: Discuss your epilepsy medication routine with your doctor before you depart to plan out a medication schedule and to decide how much to pack. Carry at least a day’s supply with you at all times. Make sure you have additional supplies of your epilepsy medication in case any is lost (you could keep some in your hand luggage and some in your case). Store and carry medications in properly labelled bottles to avoid any unnecessary issues with airport security. Pay attention to time zone changes, and carefully plan so that you don’t miss a dose. Be sure to bring not only your daily epilepsy medication, but also any that your doctor has prescribed to be used in the event of "breakthrough" seizures. Bring extra days of medication. Travel delays do (can) happen and you should (want to) be prepared just in case.
Take precautions if you have a VNS: A vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device is a small battery or generator that is implanted in the chest wall and sends pulses of electrical energy to the brain to prevent seizures. As airport security has recently become stricter, they are likely to question this piece of equipment. To avoid any unnecessary delays, carry your VNS registration card with you and have your doctor include an explanation of the device in their letter.
Wear a medical alert bracelet: If you have epilepsy, you should be wearing a medical ID bracelet at all times – and it is especially important when you are travelling. Medical personnel should immediately be alerted to your condition so they can treat you as quickly and effectively as possible in the event of an emergency. When you are away from your doctor, family, and friends who understand your condition, a medical ID is essential Also, write out a list of your epilepsy medication. In addition to the names of your medicines, be sure to include the dosages and how often you take them. Put this list in an obvious place for emergency workers to find.
Do your best to maintain your routine as you do at home: Changing your sleep/wake cycle or taking your epilepsy medication at a different time will increase your risk of having a seizure, even if you've been seizure-free for quite some time. Try to maintain your regular sleep patterns as sleep disruption can prompt epilepsy seizures for some people. If you have no choice but to change your routine while on holiday (maybe you work night shift, for example) consider a visit to your doctor before you leave to ask about ways to cope with the effect on your body and lessen the chances of a seizure. When you are out and about, take extra medication in your day bag - this may also allow you to be more flexible with your plans as the day unfolds. If you need to rest, then rest. Surely both you and your travel party would rather spend a few hours back at the room taking a nap, than spending several hours at hospital.
Drink plenty of fluids: The effects of dehydration can trigger a seizure.
Use the same precautions that you would at home: If you don't swim alone at home, then don't do it on holiday. If you don't drink alcohol at home, don't do it on holiday. In general, be on the lookout for potential hazards (moving vehicles, sharp corners, unprotected drop-offs) and take precautions just as you would at home.