#NationalEpilepsyDay: Know the myths and facts about seizures

Epilepsy is a condition with recurrent seizures (two or more) which are not provoked by systemic or acute neurologic insults. Epilepsy is fairly common, with an incidence of 45 per lac per year and a cumulative lifetime incidence of 3% worldwide


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India shares a substantial proportion of the global health burden with approximately 10 -20 % of the globally afflicted population residing here. There is a huge treatment gap in epilepsy, despite the significant advances in the medical and surgical aspects of the illness.

While speaking about the facts related to seizures, Dr Ashok Hande, a neurosurgeon at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, informed, “Most seizures come without a warning sign and happen suddenly which last for a short while and eventually stops naturally. Seizures differ from person to person.”

He added, “Some people are prone to more than a single type of seizure; however, even though the seizers are unique, the pattern remains the same each time it occurs. Not every seizure is accompanied with convulsions (jerking or shaking movements).”

While Dr Rima Chaudhari, a consultant neurologist, stated, “Report any change in your seizure frequency to your doctor. Try and sleep adequately, at least 8 hors every night. Avoid shift duties or late work hours. Please be compliant with your medication, which means taking your meds regularly.”

She further said, “Always carry your ‘rescue medication’, which your Neurologist may have prescribed you to take in case of a big seizure. Avoid driving; you will be harming not only yourself, but your loved ones too. It is advisable to avoid alcohol consumption.”

Myths about seizures:

Epilepsy is a form of spiritual possession: Epilepsy is a neurological condition, affecting the brain. It is also a physical condition, because the body is affected when someone has a seizure.

Epilepsy is contagious: Epilepsy cannot be caught if one comes in contact with an epileptic patient; like many other medical problems, it is NOT contagious.

You are born with epilepsy, it is genetic: Anyone can develop epilepsy at any time. There are those who are born with it while others have their first seizure at an adult age. While genetics can play a factor, there are other more common causes of epilepsy, such as head trauma, brain tumour and stroke, to name a few.

People with epilepsy can’t work, excel at school, have children or lead normal lives: Epileptics often lead normal lives. The range of abilities and intelligence in people with Epilepsy is no different than the rest of us.

During a seizure, you can swallow your tongue: The human tongue cannot be swallowed. However, one can bite their tongue during a seizure.

You should force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure: This is not at all recommended. If someone is having a seizure, it is advisable to roll the person on to one side and place something soft under is head to protect the person from injury.

You should restrain someone having a seizure: The seizure will run its course and cannot be stopped or avoided. Using restraint is not the answer and must not be used.