Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder associated with brain, characterized by recurrent ‘seizures’ or ‘fits’. The brain activity gets abnormal, causing seizures with unusual behaviour, and sometimes loss of awareness. As a result, the seizures are caused due to sudden, excessive electrical discharges in the neurons (brain cells).
The condition can affect the person at any age and each age group has unique concerns and problems.Organized by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), National Epilepsy Day started in the year of 2015 providing a platform for people with epilepsy to share their experiences and stories with a global audience.
The day is significant as advocacy for appropriate legislation that will guarantee human rights of people with epilepsy is carried out and people with epilepsy are encouraged to live to their fullest potential.
In India, National Epilepsy Day is observed on November 17 every year, to create awareness about epilepsy. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 50 million people globally have epilepsy, out of which 80 per cent people are living in developing countries. Three-fourth of affected people in developing countries does not receive the required treatment despite epilepsy being treatable.
Why do we celebrate national epilepsy day?
The objective of celebrating National Epilepsy Day is to make people aware of Epilepsy. Different research centres and organizations are involved in finding and researching for curing Epilepsy. The team at Epilepsy Foundation also makes regular attempt to make sure that the epilepsy patients participate in every walk of life. The people at the foundation work to change the perception of people about Epilepsy patients. The organization also endeavours that the society and community accept and value epilepsy patients with respect.
Symptoms of epilepsy are as follows:
- Sudden twitching (uncontrollable jerking motions of the arms and legs)
- Loss of consciousness
- Temporary confusion
- Psychic symptoms like fear, anxiety or deja vu
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Tingling sensation (feeling of pricking pins or needles) in arms or legs
- Stiffness in muscles of arms or legs or face
Causes of Epilepsy
- Brain damage from prenatal and perinatal injury
- Congenital abnormalities
- Brain Infections
- Stroke and Brain Tumors
- Head Injury/ Accidents
- Prolonged high fever during childhood.
Epilepsy is mostly treatable with medications. The critical thing about epilepsy is that its treatment should not be delayed. The treatment should be started as soon as it is diagnosed as medication helps prevent further deterioration of the condition.
Tips to deal with Seizures
- Do not panic. Avoid restraining the person during a seizure.
- Remove all the sharp/harmful objects out of the person with seizures.
- Put something soft under the person’s head.Loosen any tight neck wear.
- Gently roll the person onto one side so that any fluid in the mouth can safely come out.
- Do not put anything into the person’s mouth for the fear of swallowing tongue.
- Refrain from leaving the person alone until medical help arrives.
- Allow the person to rest or sleep.
Tips for Epileptic patients
- Regularmedication: Take the epilepsy medicines as advised by doctor, even if you are not having seizures.
- Consult a doctor: Do not discontinue the medications without your doctors’ advice.
- Avoid possible side effects/ complications: Consult your doctor while taking any other medications.
- Avoid alcohol consumption: It can provoke seizures.
Epilepsy is one of the oldest identified medical conditions of the world, yet people fear and misunderstand epilepsy and have a reluctance to open up about it. The persistence and misunderstanding of the people discourage them to talk or discuss the disease. For most of the people who live with epilepsy, the misapprehension and discrimination can create a bigger problem in treating the seizures as discrimination lowers the self-esteem of the victims. Awareness can be raised and common people can be educated about the real facts of epilepsy by celebrating National and International Epilepsy Day. Timely detection and medication is very critical for improved treatment. Better care and social interaction can subdue the effect of the disease, if not completely cured.