Having seizures and epilepsy can affect one’s safety, lifestyle, relationships, work, driving, and so much more. How people perceive people with epilepsy, and how they’re treated are often bigger problems than the actual seizures. The causes may vary from a person to another and how they affect people differs in each case. And when it comes to EDM festivals, the loud music, the bright lights and the whole experience can have a significant effect on an epileptic person. Depending on each type of epilepsy, certain measures can be taken to ease the effects of the EDM festival on the epileptic individual. But one thing is certain; people who constantly face the chance of seizures cannot enjoy a full weekend of EDM festivals and partying.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at epilepsy and discuss how people prone to seizures can enjoy an EDM festival even if they can’t go “all in”.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Usually, a person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures that were not triggered by known reversible conditions like alcohol withdrawals or extremely low blood sugar. Often the cause of these seizures is unknown, although some might experience them due to a family tendency.
Many people with epilepsy experience several types of seizures and may show signs of neurological problems. Sometimes testing using and EEG (electroencephalogram), looking into the patient’s clinical and family history will result in what is defined as epilepsy syndrome.
Usually, the electrical symptoms that produce these seizures are found in the brain, and these will determine how the seizure happens, it’s character and it’s effect on the patient. It’s location, how it manifests and spreads throughout the body and how long it lasts will have profound effects on the person.
Symptoms of epilepsy are directly related to the brain and it’s abnormal activity: from temporary confusion, to loss of consciousness or awareness these vary and depend on the type of seizure the person is having.
In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.
What Causes Epilepsy?
In order to better understand what epilepsy is, and how it is affected by EDM music in general, we need to go deeper into its causes. These, greatly vary from one person to another. Some people show no clear cause of epilepsy and discover that it is genetic. But in the general majority of cases, the cause is unknown.
If the reason is genetic, one or more genes may cause the epilepsy or it may be caused by the way some genes work in the brain. The relationship between genes and seizures can be very complex and genetic testing is not available yet for many of its forms.
If the reasons are not genetic, doctors will try to trace it back to several other factors:
- Head Trauma: a trauma to the head as a result of an accident or other traumatic injury can cause epilepsy
- Prenatal Injury: babies are very sensitive to brain damage before birth. This could be caused by several factors like poor nutrition, oxygen deficiency, or even the mother. This brain damage can be the cause of epilepsy in the future.
- Developmental Disorders: Disorders like autism and neurofibromatosis can sometimes be associated with epileptic seizures.
- Brain Tumors: Any form of damage to the brain can result in epileptic seizures, add to that strokes which are the leading cause in people over the age of 35.
- Not taking your epilepsy medication regularly. Several studies have shown that missing a dose of your epilepsy medicine increases the risk of you having a seizure.
It is important to note that certain factors can increase the risk of epilepsy:
Although they can occur at any age, epilepsy is most common in children or older adults. In addition to that, having a family history is sometimes associated with seizures. So it is recommended to take extra care and wear safety helmets and protect yourself from any kind of head injury.
As mentioned above, any kind of stroke and vascular diseases, which can lead to, brain damage might possibly trigger epilepsy. Of course, we need to add to the above, an accident with a direct hit on the head whether the person was prone or not might also cause them epilepsy. Many people with epilepsy say that if they are feeling stressed, they are more likely to have a seizure. So it is important to get a lot of sleep and reduce stress as much as possible.
Complications of Epilepsy
Having a seizure at certain times (let alone a crowded dance music festival) can be dangerous to the patient and to others. During seizures, the patient might fall which can cause injuries or broken bones. If the person experiences a seizure while driving, they might most probably cause an accident since it will lead to loss of awareness or control. Many US states have certain laws relating to people with seizure history, they will need to prove that they have been seizure-free for a certain period of time before being allowed to drive again.
In addition to the above, people with epilepsy are more likely to have depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in addition to other psychological problems and behaviors.
Based on all of the above, it is clear that people with epilepsy or epileptic tendencies are more sensitive to external stimuli, stress and anything outside their calm, stable and comfortable zone. For this reason, going to a vibrant, chaotic, active event like an electronic dance music festival can be somewhat challenging.
Tips For Attending EDM Festivals
Based on all of the above, and on several accounts of people with different kinds of epilepsy, it is important to take note of the important points below:
- Tonal Sensitive Epileptic people might not be used to avoiding loud spaces. It will be difficult to adapt to the change of scenery, of the loud crowds and the noises. Using earplugs is a great suggestion in this case, unless there is heavy bass. This is when people with that kind of epilepsy should refrain from the crowd. A great suggestion, no matter what kind of epilepsy the person is living with, is to stay in a group. Attend a festival with a friend and make sure you’re never alone.
- A great tip if you’re light sensitive is to have shades on. Find the type of shades that will help the most in your case and try to stay away from the strobe lights and the heavy kinds of music.
- Make sure you get a lot more rest than the usual crowds. You need the time out more. To recharge your batteries and make sure your body is still composed and you’re awareness is working at normal levels. Stay in check always and monitor yourself during the festival for any weird unexpected changes. And as stated above, always be with a friend or a family member. Never alone. There’s nothing worse than having an incident alone.
- It is recommended not to do a full weekend festival in this case. It might seem like a good idea, but there’s too much to risk in this delicate situation. Take control. You can choose the best day with the best lineup and get to experience it in the best possible way without risking your life and ruining the experience for your group of friends who are attending with you.
- The normal thing to do as well is keep your drinks and personal belongings in check. Make sure nobody has tampered with them and make sure you’re clean and not taking any harmful drugs. These can be fatal in some cases, and it is not worth the risk. Even if your friends decide to try some Molly or some other “party enhancing drug”. An epileptic person is more sensitive to any new element that comes into their body and you really have no idea how it will react to the substance, so it’s best to abstain. Having clean, good fun is recommended in any case.
- Pack all medications you take every day and take medications you might need for headaches or other issues. These are no-brainers but sometimes with all the excitement you might just ignore this.
- Avoid excess alcohol. Everyone understands the pressure you’ll face when everyone else around you is drinking without control and ignoring the amounts of alcohol they’re taking in. For epileptic people, drinking more than modest amounts of alcohol in 24 hours can increase the risk of having seizures. After heavy drinking, the risk is highest when the alcohol is leaving your body. So keep your alcohol intake in check to avoid unwanted complications.
In the end, just take your meds, get good sleep during the days before the festival, and make sure you eat regularly. During the event, figure out what and where you feel comfortable, stay away from the center of the crowd (even if nothing happens just to be safe). Keep a list of emergency medication in your pocket (just in case) and know deep down that you’ll be fine and you be ready to enjoy the event to the fullest. Having to take precautions isn’t something to be afraid or ashamed of. Everyone is there to enjoy the experience, nobody’s really paying attention to you. Even if they are, those people follow the PLUR mentality and lifestyle. They’re all for peace, love and unity through music and the celebration of life.
Just go, enjoy yourself and have fun!
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