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Epileptic seizures range in severity from mild sensory disruption to a short period of staring or unconsciousness to convulsions. Seizures can manifest in a variety of symptoms, including repetitive motions, changes in breathing rate, flushing, sudden lapses in consciousness, hallucinations, rhythmic twitching of muscles or a generalized loss of muscle control.9

People with epilepsy have a substantially higher mortality rate than the general population. This is attributable to a phenomenon known as sudden unexplained death in epilepsy patients (SUDEP). SUDEP is unexpected and non-traumatic and occurs in approximately 1% of epileptics.10 It has no clear anatomical or toxicological cause, although it may be due to cardiac arrhythmias sometimes triggered by epileptic electrical activity. In the United States, SUDEP may account for 8% to 17% of all deaths in individuals with epilepsy, with greater incidence in younger individuals. Major risk factors for SUDEP include epilepsy occurring earlier in life, lying in bed in a face down position, having poorly controlled epilepsy, and being male. In fact, the male-to-female ratio can be as high as 1.75:1.11 One of the most important things that epileptics can do to lower their risk of SUDEP is to improve the control of their disease, which for many patients can be achieved by changing their diet and taking supplements in addition to taking their AEDs. Sleeping on your back may also lower your risk of SUDEP.12