Good morning, everyone! Happy Id-el-fitri celebrations!
Ever heard of epilepsy? You probably have. You have also most likely heard that it is contagious and so sharing cutleries, hugging and sitting close to epileptics puts you in the direct path of the problem, right? Wrong! Epilepsy is NOT contagious!!! I overhear someone ask a question about epilepsy recently and thought to share this.
What is epilepsy? It is a problem of the nervous system where the cells of the brain ‘fire’ or behave abnormally leading to abnormal sensations, symptoms, behaviour and sometimes loss of consciousness. This is called a seizure but not every seizure is due to epilepsy. Seizures can occur in high fever (especially in children) and also due to dehydration. A seizure needs to have occured at least on two different occasions without provocation for epilepsy to be suspected.
Symptoms of epilepsy would depend on the type of epilepsy (yes, there are different types). So, the person may not lose consciousness at all but may have altered taste, smell etc, there may also be jerky movements of limbs, staring gaze etc.
What are the possible causes of epilepsy? It could be due to genetics (having a relation with epilepsy places one at a higher risk. Also some genes are more likely to be affected by the other risk factors of epilepsy leading to seizures), infections like meningitis, antenatal conditions like poor feeding and infection in the mother, Trauma the head like in head injuries and other brain conditions like stroke. Other risk factors are extremes of age (Early childhood and adults more than 60 years are more likely to have this. However, this is not a hard and fast rule as this has been observed across different age bands) and prior history of seizure in childhood.
Some people may have found out that a seizure is usually provoked by certain things or situations. These triggers include flashing bright lights, stress, sleep deprivation, during monthly menstrual cycle, certain foods, alcohol or certain drug use, poor feeding etc. Sometimes, it is not very easy to recognize these triggers if you are not looking out for them. So, paying attention to the ‘possible’ triggers is important so they can be avoided.
Treatment can range from taking drugs to surgery…or perhaps other forms of treatment. These drugs can either get a person to the point where they never have seizures again or to the point where they have fewer seizures. But please, do not discontinue the drugs. This can be done only with your doctor’s advice as it has to be timed right.
To cope with this long term, ensure that drugs are taken as prescribed and discuss with your doctor if you feel dose needs to be amended. Get enough sleep and generally avoid other triggers of seizures, exercise regularly and make healthy lifestyle choices.
If you are not epileptic or if you don’t know anyone with epilepsy, you probably don’t think you have an action point here. But you do! Epileptics suffer all manners of indignity. They are accused of witchcraft, their feet are burned to get rid of the witchcraft etc. But none of this is true. Help spread the story that epilepsy is NOT witchcraft, is not contagious and epileptics are normal human beings who have suffered enough exclusion and need our love, support and care. We need to teach our children this too as epileptics in schools suffer severe emotional, mental and oftentimes, physical torture/bullying from other kids in school. This could very well be because their parents have told them to steer clear of any child with a seizure. You and I can change this!
If you are an epileptic…it may not look like it right now, but guess what? There is most certainly light at the end of this tunnel!
Have a great day y’all 😀