Stay cool: hot weather and epilepsy

Published: June 12 2023
Last updated: June 21 2023

Unusually warm weather can increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy

Two deck chairs under a shady tree on a hot day

This week (12 June 2023) has seen a rise in temperatures across the UK, with BBC weather reporting that it will stay hot and humid over the next few days. Severe hot weather can be dangerous for anyone, but it may also increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy.

Some people with epilepsy find that their seizures increase during very hot weather. The reasons for this aren’t fully known, but it’s thought that some people are particularly sensitive to heat.

Hot nights can also make it more difficult to sleep, causing people to feel tired and stressed – both of which are common triggers for seizures. Some epilepsy medicines can even be affected by high temperatures, making them less effective.

With climate change causing global temperatures to rise, there is the potential for more heatwaves.

So, what can you do to be prepared and stay safe?

Reducing risks

  • Check your local weather forecast so that you know when hot weather is expected
  • Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, which is between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid vigorous exercise
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Switch off all electrical equipment when not in use – equipment should not be left in ‘standby mode’ as this generates heat
  • Open windows as early as possible in the morning or overnight to allow stored heat to escape, when outdoor air becomes warmer than the air indoors keep windows almost closed
  • Use fans if the room temperature is below 35°c

Keeping children safe

  • Provide children with plenty of water (such as water from a cold tap) and encourage them to drink more than usual
  • Children should wear loose, light-coloured clothing to help keep cool and sunhats with wide brims to avoid sunburn
  • Regularly apply sun cream

Avoiding sleep deprivation:

  • Keep regular sleeping hours
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks late in the day
  • Try to wind down by listening to a relaxation CD, reading a book or writing a ‘to do’ list
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and tidy

Find out more about epilepsy and sleep here.

Storing epilepsy medicine safely

  • Check how to store your medicine in the patient information leaflet it came with
  • If appropriate, keep your medicine in a cool, dry place
  • Be aware that some medicines are also affected by low temperatures and can’t be stored in the fridge
  • Consider using a thermometer to help find the best place to keep your medicine
  • Speak to your pharmacist if you need more advice