Going to music festivals is an exciting way to spend a summer weekend. However, if you have epilepsy, EDM music festivals could raise some issues. While most people with epilepsy can enjoy these events, it is worth taking a moment to think about potential risks – from dehydration to music festival lighting - and how you will manage them.
Risks of EDM music festivals for people with epilepsy
There is nothing like being in a crowd of people dancing to the same beat – that’s the beauty of EDM music. Most people with epilepsy can enjoy this experience like anyone else, but it is worth being aware of the risks:
- Music festival lighting and stroboscopic epilepsy
Almost all EDM festivals use stroboscopic lighting displays – strobes are a known trigger of epilepsy (although only for about 3% of people with epilepsy). That said, research in The Netherlands found that EDM festivals tripled the risk of epileptic seizures – and stroboscopic lighting could be an important part of the cause. It’s worth checking with your epilepsy treatment team if you’re not sure if this is one of your triggers or not.
- Alcohol and drugs
Sometimes there might be pressures to drink alcohol or take other substances at music festivals. However, for many people with epilepsy, alcohol and illegal drugs can be a seizure trigger, so it is best to avoid them.
If you are at an EDM music event all weekend, you will be getting less sleep than usual. If tiredness is a seizure trigger for you, it’s worth planning for this.
How to manage festival risks when you have epilepsy
If you are planning on attending an EDM music festival, here are some things you can do to manage those risks:
- Talk to your doctor: Tell them about your plans and ask for specific advice. Some epilepsy treatment centers can test if you have ‘stroboscopic’ epilepsy that is triggered by music festival lighting.
- Keep hydrated: If you are dancing for hours you can easily get dehydrated. This can alter the chemical balance in your brain and may trigger seizures – so keep a bottle of water with you.
- Take your medication: One of the biggest causes of seizures is forgetting to take medicine. Do your best to take your medication at the right time each day - Epsy can send you daily reminders to take your medication, to limit any missed doses.
- Inform your friends: Let the people you’re going to the festival with know about your seizures and what to do if you have one. It is also worth wearing an epilepsy bracelet in case you lose your buddies in the crowd.
- Be prepared: When you arrive at the festival, it might be helpful to find out where the medical station is.
- Avoid risky behavior: You know yourself better than anyone else, so listen to your body. If you know alcohol or tiredness triggers your seizures, avoid these risks.
Having fun at festivals when you have epilepsy
For most people with epilepsy, attending EDM music festivals is fine – especially if you know that you do not have stroboscopic epilepsy. By talking with your doctor, and taking a little time to plan and prepare, you can dance to your favorite DJ all weekend long.