Epilepsy

neurology

Epilepsy is a big challenge to the society. Epilepsy is common across all age group but incidence is more in children. Epilepsy is not only about the treatment of seizures but there are many aspects like emotions, social stigma and fear of neglect by the society. It's natural for a child who has a chronic illness or who is different from other children to feel resentful. Children with an illness such as epilepsy may develop emotional problems, such as poor self-esteem or depression.

Common cause in children include problem with oxygen supply during delivery, childhood brain infections, head injuries and genetic defect. The most common type of seizure in children is the febrile seizure, which occurs when an infection associated with a high fever develops.

Dr. Atma Ram Bansal – Epilepsy expert at Medanta the Medicity Gurgaon says “Epilepsy can affect a child in different ways including daily medications, fear of embarrassment if seizure happen in school and restriction of outdoor activities.”

Epilepsy is a major health problem in developing countries, including India. It is not psychosis or madness or related to some supernatural power. It occurs because of abnormality of electrical activity of the brain cells, resulting in episodic abnormal behaviour in an individual. In India there are more than 70lakh people with epilepsy.

“It is very important to share the information about seizures with the family members, friends and school teachers as it can help in getting first aid if there is a seizure. Some rescue medications like Midazolam spray can be kept at home and in the school/office.” adds Dr. Bansal

Dr. Atma Ram Bansal confirms “Teachers/Parents are very important part of care of the person with epilepsy. With awareness about epilepsy they can help in moral boosting which will help in personality development and self-confidence. “

Following information should be shared with the friends and teachers if your ward is having epilepsy

  • Don’t leave the child alone. Let the seizure happen
  • Don’t panic. Ask somebody to make a video while you help in first aid.
  • Make sure that there is no trauma to head so put something soft under head to protect it.
  • Move dangerous objects out of the way.
  • DO NOT hold the child or try to stop seizures forcefully
  • Don’t put anything in the child’s mouth.
  • Once the jerks are over immediately turn the child to one side. Let the fluid come out of mouth
  • Stay with the child until complete awareness returns.
  • IF seizures are continuous for more than 5min then emergency care is required

Majority of the patient need treatment for 2-5 years but in some the treatment may be even less than one year while in others it may be lifelong. This decision is made after analysing type of epilepsy. If by chance seizures happen again then the medicine is restarted.

A small number of patient may continue to have seizures despite taking 2-3medications. In such scenario a detail workup by experts in epilepsy may help. If we can find the source of seizure in MRI and video EEG then that point of brain responsible for seizures can be removed microscopically. There are very good results of epilepsy surgery in curing seizures in such scenario.

People with epilepsy can live a happy and successful life. With the advent of newer medicines, availability of medical care and increased awareness of the condition, it has become possible for a person with epilepsy to lead a good life. There are many famous poets, writers and sportsmen with epilepsy who have excelled in their respective fields. It is very important to come over social stigma and share your worries with the doctor. Together with good treatment and support we can easily win over epilepsy

General Myths and Facts about epilepsy in the society

  1. Myth: Epilepsy is the result of possession by evil spirits. The treatment is to exercise such spirits through faith healers or alternative therapies.
    Reality: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal brain circuits. The patients should be taken to a qualified doctor.
  2. Myth: An epileptic attack can be stopped by making the patient smell an onion or branding the skin with a hot needle or iron rod.
    Reality: Such methods only cause more injury and do not help the patient.
  3. Myth: If you touch an epileptic patient during a seizure, the disorder will pass to you.
    Reality: Epilepsy is not contagious and does not spread by touch.
  4. Myth: Epilepsy brings stigma to the family, so the patient should be hidden.
    Reality: Epilepsy is a treatable disease just like diabetes or hypertension. There is no reason to hide an epileptic patient. Ensure that they get timely treatment and that they take their medication regularly.
  5. Myth: People with epilepsy cannot marry nor have children.
    Reality: As long as the patient takes his/her medication and does not hide the condition, there is no reason why he/she cannot marry or have children.
  6. Myth: Children who have seizures should not be sent to school.
    Reality: Most children who have epilepsy are intelligent. In some cases, there may be some intellectual and development cahllenges but that is due to an abnormality in the brain. Again, as long as the child takes the medication regularly, he/she can go to school.
  7. Myth: Wearing a metal ring, talisman or offering animal sacrifices will prevent seizures.
    Reality: Nothing can prevent seizures except antiepileptic medication.
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