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While everyone in the country is currently occupied by coping with the changes created by COVID-19, patients suffering from epilepsy may have additional concerns. Based on the most recent information from the CDC, having epilepsy does not increase the risk of contracting COVID-19, and if you do contract the virus, epilepsy does not increase the severity of the illness. That said, it is not uncommon for patients with epilepsy to have co-morbid conditions that can either compromise their immunity, increase their risk of developing more severe symptoms with a viral illness, or both.

The best advice at this time is that anyone with epilepsy should speak with their treating health care provider about their specific risks, and if there are any special precautions they should take. Following the CDC recommendations to reduce your chances of getting sick is a good idea – regular handwashing, making sure you’ve gotten the flu vaccine (to minimize the chances of getting just the regular flu), and “social distancing” will all help minimize the impact of the virus on the healthcare system, and help keep you and your loved ones safe.

 

Jeremy Slater, M.D., has worked in the field of epilepsy for more than 27 years and currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for The Alliance Family of Companies. He served as the director of the Texas Comprehensive Epilepsy Program from 2004 through 2017, growing the center from a single neurologist and neurosurgeon to one of the largest epilepsy surgery programs in the country. Dr. Slater earned his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in Pittsburgh, Pa. He completed his residency in neurology followed by a fellowship in epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Fla.