"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.."- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Life One Step At The Time: Epilepsy

Today as often I realise that many people know very little, if not even nothing about Epilepsy. It’s a very common condition, yet many are scared of it being contagious or fatal like a cancer.

I work every day with clients with Epilepsy, they lead normal lives even though they have to take speciffic medication to keep the seizures under control.  Though in some cases, especially in young age , epilepsy can limit school achievements and participation in life’s experiences.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It is also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. Seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells in the brain signal abnormally, which may briefly alter a person’s consciousness, movements or actions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, epilepsy affects 2.2 million Americans. The Institute of Medicine, in their recent report “Epilepsy Across the Spectrum,” says “the 2.2 million prevalence estimate is most accurately viewed as approximating a midpoint in a wide potential range of 1.3 million to 2.8 million people with epilepsy.”

Epilepsy affects 65 million people worldwide and is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the U.S. after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Its prevalence is greater than autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease combined. Despite how common it is and major advances in diagnosis and treatment, epilepsy is among the least understood of major chronic medical conditions, even though one in three adults knows someone with the disorder.

When the doctor has made a diagnosis of seizures or epilepsy, the next step is to select the best form of treatment. If the seizure was caused by an underlying correctable brain condition, surgery may stop seizures. If epilepsy — that is, a continuing tendency to have seizures — is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe regular use of seizure-preventing medications. If drugs are not successful, other methods may be tried, including surgery, a special diet, complementary therapy or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). The goal of all epilepsy treatment is to prevent further seizures, avoid side effects, and make it possible for people to lead active lives.

Seizures happen when the electrical system of the brain malfunctions. Instead of discharging electrical energy in a controlled manner, the brain cells keep firing. The result may be a surge of energy through the brain, causing unconsciousness and contractions of the muscles.

If only part of the brain is affected, it may cloud awareness, block normal communication, and produce a variety of undirected, uncontrolled, unorganized movements.

Most seizures last only a minute or two, although confusion afterwards may last longer. An epilepsy syndrome is defined by a collection of similar factors, such as type of seizure, when they developed in life, and response to treatment.

First aid for epilepsy is basically simple. The goal is to keep the person safe until the seizure stops naturally by itself. It is important for the public to know how to respond to all seizures, including the most noticeable kind—generalized tonic-clonic seizures, or convulsions.

When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic-clonic seizures, these are the key things to remember:

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
  • Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Time the seizure with your watch.
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
  • Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can cause injury.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
  • Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

For more details about Epilepsy visit: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/.

4 responses

  1. My sister is epileptic, as is her son. My daughter used to have febrile convulsions. As you say, not enough people are aware of what to do

    February 13, 2013 at 12:20

  2. Thank you for sharing this. This definitely helps me understand better.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:32

  3. Yes good and important post. Knowledge kills fear (sometimes)…..With epilepsy definitely!

    February 14, 2013 at 04:31

  4. Thank you. I thought it might help.

    February 16, 2013 at 21:15

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