When the days get warm it’s only natural to think of swimming as a fun way to cool off, but is swimming safe when you have epilepsy? Should you avoid it or are there precautions you can take? What about water sports? Are these safe or do they have added risk? I know as a teen with uncontrolled seizures my parents were always worried when I wanted to do something that involved water and swimming. So in this post, I will do my best to help you get the information you need before you go swimming this summer.
Is it Safe to Swim?
You may be wondering if it is safe for you to swim? This depends really on the type of seizures you have, where you will be swimming, and if you are planning on any water sports. We’ll go through it all here, but in short, if take the proper steps to create a safety plan before you swim then you should be able to swim.
What Types of Seizures Do You Have?
It is important to know what kinds of seizures you have in order to come up with a proper safety plan. If for example, you don’t lose consciousness during your seizures then you may be perfectly fine swimming on your own. If on the other hand, you do blackout during a seizure you will need at the very least a swimming partner to make sure you don’t drown should you seize while swimming.
I for example as a teen had all kinds of seizures, including tonic-clonics. If you are unfamiliar with what a tonic-clonic is check out my post: A Beginners Guide to Seizures. So I swam in view of an adult I was with, if in dark waters I was attached to a floatable device, and I tried to swim with a friend. This kept me safe while swimming. I knew someone would be able to get me out of the water if I had a seizure.
The Difference Between A Pool and Open Water…
When planning swimming safety with epilepsy it is important to think about whether you plan on swimming at a pool or at the beach. Why? It’s important because there is increased risk in open water. If you slip under the water it will make it harder for someone to find you and keep you from drowning. In a pool, it’s easy enough to see a person in distress and quickly do what needs to be done to keep them safe. So if you plan on swimming in open water make sure to wear a life vest or have something like a boogie board attached to you at all times. Also, make sure someone swims with you so that faster action can be taken. Open water is often dark water and if you sleep beneath it could be very difficult finding you in time.
Also when considering these two different options also find out if the place you are going to has a lifeguard on duty or not. If they do before you swim be sure to let the lifeguard know of your condition and any action steps that might need to take should the worst happen. Having a copy of your seizure action plan with you will aid in this conversation.
Epilepsy and Water Sports…
While many water sports such as water skiing or water volleyball should be safe for you to play in the water there are a few that should probably be steered clear from until you find some control with your seizures.
Scuba diving, canoeing, and kayaking all have a higher risk of drowning for those with epilepsy. All these you could easily become trapped underneath the water and not receive the help you need should you have a seizure in the water. Scuba diving you are deep underwater and the risk here is just too great if you have uncontrolled seizures. I understand what a major bummer this is as I was unable to scuba dive when on a cruise as a teen. Kayaking and Canoeing are considered dangerous because you can become trapped underneath an overturned kayak or canoe during a seizure. If in doubt about a water sport ask your doctor!
Whether it is safe for someone with epilepsy to swim in water or not is really a complex action and the answer once again will differ from person to person. It is best to always discuss any worries or questions you have with your doctor. For more detailed information on this topic check out Epilepsy Society. Their information on this topic was very helpful in writing this post. For help putting together information on what to do if you have a seizure check out my FREE printable seizure safety guide!