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Standing United for Epilepsy Awareness; What To Know

Sylviah KE

Feb. 17, 2020

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), India bears nearly one-sixth of the global burden of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations and sometimes loss of awareness. Though it affects people across age groups, it is more common in children and the elderly.
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While the disease can be treated, there is considerable social stigma around epilepsy which has created the need to spread awareness about various important facts pertaining to the disease for effective management. 
Fact 1: The disease burden of epilepsy is significantly high and it affects 10 million people in India every year
Fact 2: There is a lot of stigma and myths associated with epilepsy leading to fear and misconceptions, though it is one of the world’s oldest recognised conditions. There is an urgent need to spread awareness and talk about epilepsy for reducing the disease burden
Fact 3: Epilepsy is not contagious. It is a non-communicable condition and doesn’t spread by touch or eating or sharing things.
Fact 4: Epileptic seizures can either originate from one part of the brain and spread across the entire brain (focal or partial epilepsy) or in certain cases, have no single point of origin (generalised epilepsy)
Fact 5: When a person experiences two or more unprovoked seizures, they should get themselves checked for epilepsy. Convulsions (jerking in various parts of the body), short spells of blackouts, sudden bouts of blinking and inability to communicate for a short duration can also be warning sign for epilepsy
Fact 6: Epilepsy can be caused due to stress, heavy consumption of alcohol or use of recreational drugs (cocaine, ecstasy) and lack of sleep. Nutritional deficiencies, irregular menstruation cycle and some antibiotics can also trigger seizures in a given person with epilepsy
Fact 7: A seizure does not usually last for more than a couple of minutes and it cannot be controlled. Also, contrary to popular belief, a seizure is not always dangerous and does not harm people around the person experiencing it
Fact 8: Epilepsy is treatable. There can be significant improvement in patients through medication (consuming a single/ multiple drugs). Surgery is also an option in severe cases where seizures are non-responsive to medication. In recent years, several new and effective antiepileptic drugs have been developed to reduce the side-effects of medication on the patient
Fact 9: The duration for treating epilepsy is usually between 3 to 5 years. In some cases, treatment may be required only up to a year. The most important point is to remember to take the prescribed medication on time for the treatment to be effective. Sudden discontinuation of medication can result in seizure relapse
Fact 10: While helping a person who is experiencing a seizure, the following things should be kept in mind:
• Remove or move objects out of the way so the person does not get injured
• Reposition or place a pillow under their head
• Lay the patient on one side once the seizure is over
• Time the seizure duration
• Try to make a video
• Reassure the patient
• Do not hold the person down during the seizure
• In case the person turns blue or stops breathing, try to position their head in a way that they can breathe
CPR or mouth-to-mouth breathing is rarely needed after seizures and should never be performed during the seizure
• In case, the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or the person gets injured during the episode, or is unconscious, it is advisable to seek medical intervention
(Author Dr. Atma Ram Bansal is Senior Consultant at Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta)
~News18
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