People with epilepsy may need to avoid some medications and activities that could cause harm in the event of a seizure. Examples include operating heavy machinery and working at heights.

According to the National Library of Medicine, a person may also need to avoid certain activities at home, such as taking unsupervised baths and doing certain types of cooking.

However, some tools and alternative methods may make these activities safer. For instance, using a shower chair for bathing and a microwave oven for cooking can reduce or eliminate the dangers.

Medications are an important consideration. A person should take the medications their doctor has prescribed to them and avoid those that could be harmful.

This article discusses what to avoid with epilepsy, including medications, lifestyle habits, and other activities. It also offers tips for managing the condition and information on seizure safety.

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Someone with epilepsy may have limitations regarding the following:

  • the types of medication they can safely take
  • daily life at home, such as special precautions to take when bathing and cooking
  • jobs or activities involving heights, water, or dangerous equipment
  • certain sports

People should avoid certain medications, lifestyle practices, activities, and sports that may pose a risk to their health.

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Certain medications and factors related to them may trigger seizures. These include:

  • a recent change in dose or frequency of antiseizure medication
  • withdrawal from a sedative or alcohol
  • antidepressants
  • atypical antipsychotics, such as clozapine (Clozaril)
  • certain immunosuppressants, such as cyclosporine (Neoral)
  • antibiotics that contain quinolones — such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) — or the combination of imipenem and cilastatin (Primaxin)

The above is not a comprehensive list of drugs that may trigger seizures. It is important for a person to inform their doctor of all medications and dietary supplements they take, because safer alternatives may be available in every drug class.

A 2018 review notes that the following antidepressants have the greatest risk of triggering a seizure:

  • amoxapine
  • bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • clomipramine (Anafranil)


Alternatives to the drugs mentioned above could include medications from the following drug classes:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)

The following lifestyle factors may trigger seizures:

  • Certain beverages: Excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda may trigger seizures, according to a 2022 review. The same is true of some fruit juices, including pomegranate, grapefruit, kinnow, lime, and star fruit. Excessive caffeine consumption refers to more than 5 cups of coffee.
  • Environmental triggers: Exposure to flashing lights or loud music can trigger seizures.
  • Tobacco use and substance misuse: Experts warn against the use of tobacco and excessive intake of alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • Low blood sugar: Many seizures happen when a person’s blood sugar is too low.
  • Lack of sleep: This can change the brain’s pattern of electrical activity.
  • Stress: Overstimulation can affect eating and sleeping habits, which may reduce resistance to seizures.


The following lifestyle strategies may help a person manage epilepsy:

  • Daily coffee and tea consumption can be a part of a healthy diet, even in people with epilepsy. However, limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams (mg) in one sitting or 400 mg per day, which is 2.5 cups and 5 cups of coffee, respectively.
  • Avoid watching TV shows or online videos with fast-moving patterns, a bright screen, or quickly changing colors.
  • Refrain from using tobacco products, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and using recreational drugs.
  • Follow a healthy diet and avoid any known food triggers.
  • Get a minimum of 7–8 hours of sleep per day.
  • Look for healthy ways to manage stress.
  • Engage in regular exercise. Doing this with others is always a good idea.

Since seizures are unpredictable, a person should avoid any activity that could pose a risk if they experience a seizure. Examples include:

  • working at heights
  • driving
  • using power tools or heavy machinery
  • swimming unattended
  • climbing tall structures
  • cooking with a fire or the oven
  • taking a bath unsupervised


Safe sports and recreational activities will vary, depending on the following factors:

  • how severe a person’s epilepsy is
  • how well medications manage the condition
  • how long the person has been seizure-free

High risk sports such as rock climbing may be off-limits to any person. However, some sports may be fine if a person uses protective gear. A person should ask their doctor which activities are safe for them.


The Epilepsy Foundation offers the following tips for safety:

  • Instead of taking a bath, use a shower chair and a flexible shower hose.
  • Cook on an electric stove instead of a gas stove, and use the back burners rather than the front ones. A microwave oven is safer.
  • If seizures or falls occur frequently, avoid climbing stairs when alone.
  • When swimming, wear a life jacket and always have a swimming buddy.

The National Cancer Institute advises people to make an emergency plan with a doctor that includes:

  • getting to the ground or a safe place and notifying someone that a seizure has started
  • knowing when to call 911
  • lying on the left side when the seizure is over to help with vomiting
  • knowing which medications to take on an ongoing basis and which ones to take after a seizure happens

Learn more about what to do when a person has a seizure.

The following support resources are available:

  • The Epilepsy Foundation offers a 24/7 toll-free helpline at 1-800-332-1000. It also has an assistance page with information that may help a person pay for medication.
  • Cure Epilepsy focuses on funding and promoting research on the condition. The organization’s phone number is 312-255-1801 or 844-231-2873.
  • Support groups that allow people with the condition to connect are beneficial. A person can ask their doctor whether a local support group is available. If not, they may join an online group such as the Epilepsy Foundation’s adult support group.

Below are some frequently asked questions on the topic:

Can an epileptic person have a normal life?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that an individual can live a full life with the use of medications and management techniques.

If I have epilepsy, can I drive?

Yes, some states may allow a person with epilepsy to drive, but they may have certain restrictions. The person must provide documentation from their doctor showing that they have not experienced a seizure for a specific amount of time. A person can get a restricted license if:

  • they experience seizures only during sleep
  • they experience seizures only during a specific time of day
  • seizures do not affect their awareness, consciousness, or ability to drive/move
  • they experience warning signs or an aura, before having a seizure

A person with epilepsy may need to avoid potentially harmful behaviors, such as operating dangerous equipment and working at heights, and some sports. Certain jobs and recreational activities may pose a risk of harm. If a person has doubts about whether an activity poses a risk, it is always best to put safety first.

Some medications may trigger a seizure, but alternatives are available in each class of drugs. It is important for a person to discuss with their doctor all the medications and supplements they take.

Additionally, because some unhealthy lifestyle habits can trigger seizures, adopting healthy practices may reduce the risk.