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Medications and Fitness: The Two-Sided Conversation

Vinay’s Story

When I led seizure-free life for five years, I never asked my neurologist about the side effects of the anti-epileptic drugs (AED) in regards to my intense exercise schedule. When my neurologist decided to withdraw my medication, my seizures reoccurred after one year.

I met with my neurologist, and he resumed my medications. In 2016, I changed my neurologist and the first thing he advised was blood work check-ups. Later on, he changed my entire course of medication and this process took about 2-3 months.

During that phase, the frequency of my focal (complex partial) seizures was high. I asked my neurologist why he was not prescribing me the salt which helped me in leading seizure-free life. He simply replied to check the sodium level in my blood report. He essentially told that if he prescribed me that medicine, it will impact my sodium level, which is already on the lower borderline side. This could lead to an electrolyte imbalance in my body and increase the chances of having a seizure.

Exercise and Medications

At that time, I was a rookie in endurance cycling, and this conversation immediately reminded the advice from my senior riders. They said to avoid tea or coffee during brevet cycling, as it will lead to dehydration. Considering my sodium levels, I preferred to withdraw caffeine from my lifestyle.

After this, whenever my neurologist changed my medications, we discussed the details of the medicine. After these discussions, I planned my diets to avoid seizures, since endurance sports are very demanding in terms of training, too.

Epilepsy is a treatable medical condition which can happen to anyone at any age. With diagnosis, we more often take care about the medications’ side effects like drowsiness, nausea, mood swings, change of personality, etc. But most of us never look at how they also impact the vitals of body, too. This can be managed choosing a healthy diet and by keeping involved in any kind of fitness activity.

About the Author

Vinay Jani is from Delhi, India, an IBE Golen Light Awardee 2021, an Ultra Randonneur, 4 times Super Randonneur, and a marathoner. He speaks regularly about managing epilepsy through fitness.

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