For many people with epilepsy, the thought of hiking can be daunting. Between the potential for seizures and the risk of injury, it’s natural to feel a little apprehensive about embarking on such an adventure. However, with the right precautions in place, hiking can be a safe and enjoyable activity for people with epilepsy. I decided to write this article because a loved one of mine has epilepsy (who I hike with), and I want to share some tips on how to hike safely with this condition.
Before You Begin Hiking With Epilepsy
Before heading out on a hike, it’s important to do your research and be prepared. Your first step is to consult with your doctor or neurologist first to get the green light for hiking. Once you have the go-ahead, familiarize yourself with the trail you’ll be hiking.
If possible, think about hiking with someone familiar with the area who can help you out if need be. Also, now is not the time to be shy about your condition. Be sure to let your hiking companions know about your epilepsy and what to do in the event of a seizure. It’s vital to know how to react when someone has a seizure, as it can be a frightening experience for all involved – especially when they don’t know what’s happening.
Can You Hike With Epilepsy?
While it completely depends on how severe your epilepsy is, in general, most people with epilepsy can hike safely. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when hitting the trails.
If you plan on going solo, it’s important to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. This way, if something does happen, someone will be able to come looking for you.
Secondly, be mindful of vigorous hikes that require your full concentration. Think narrow and steep trails with drop-offs – these are probably not the best idea if you have epilepsy. If you do have a seizure, the fall could result in serious injury. Falls and trips account for the majority of hiking injuries, and you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.
How To Hike Safely With Epilepsy
So after speaking with your doctor and getting the all-clear, what precautions can you take to ensure a safe hike?
First and foremost, make sure you’re well rested before heading out. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, seizures can be triggered by fatigue, so it’s important to be well-rested before undertaking any physical activity.
In addition fo fatigue, dehyrdation can also trigger seizures. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially in hot weather. Here’s a guide you can read to learn how much water to pack for your hike.
It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks and have a little something to eat every few hours. Low blood sugar can also lead to seizures, so it’s important to keep your energy up while on the trail.
And if possible, go hiking with a partner. Not only will this make the hike more enjoyable, but it’s always good to have someone with you in case of an emergency.
If you can’t find someone to go with – some people with epilepsy choose to hike with a service dog. These specially trained dogs can provide support and assistance if their owner has a seizure. If you’re interested in hiking with a service dog, be sure to do your research beforehand to make sure the dog is a good fit for you.
Can Altitude Cause Seizures?
According to the National Library Of Medicine, high altitudes may trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow when hiking at high altitudes.
If you’re feeling any symptoms of altitude sickness – such as headache, dizziness, nausea, or fatigue – it’s important to stop and rest. If the symptoms persist, it’s best to turn back and descend to a lower altitude.
While altitude sickness affects everyone differently, it’s important to be cautious when hiking at high altitudes if you have epilepsy.
Can Exercise Cause Seizures in Epileptics?
Exercise is generally considered safe for people with epilepsy, but there is a small risk that it could trigger a seizure. This risk is usually highest in people who have seizures triggered by lack of sleep or fatigue.
It’s important to listen to your body when exercising – if you’re feeling tired, take a break. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated, as dehydration can trigger seizures.
When it comes to hiking, unless you are planning a strenuous hike, these risks are generally going to be low. Hiking is considered a low-impact aerobic activity, so as long as you’re listening to your body and taking things at a reasonable pace, you should be fine. Of course, everyone is different – if you have any concerns, it’s always best to speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
Hiking with epilepsy can be a challenging thought, but it is definitely doable with some careful planning and preparation. Make sure to listen to your body, take things at your own pace, and ALWAYS be prepared!