In the Dark Ages epileptic seizures were thought to be a sign of demons or evil in the person. Now we know it as a neurological disease that can affect anyone.
The cause of epilepsy is not always known. When the cause is known, the four most common causes are: brain trauma, brain stroke, brain tumor and infectious brain diseases.
Other causes are: metabolic, genetic, congenital malformations and immune disorders.
According to the World Health Organization, it is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide and is not correlated with age, race, social class or geographical boundaries.
However, it is more common in children.
It is estimated that one person in 10 will have a seizure in their lifetime and one person in 26 will be diagnosed with epilepsy. To put it into perspective, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, the 3.4 million people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with epilepsy are more than those with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy combined.
Many types of epilepsy can be controlled with medications, and most individuals are able to work and live healthy productive lives. You may work alongside of someone with epilepsy and never know they have the condition. However, one third of the individuals diagnosed with epilepsy do continue to have uncontrolled seizures.
Largely because of public misunderstanding, there are social challenges such as bullying and discrimination of persons with epilepsy which can often lead to depression and anxiety in he individual.
The Epilepsy Foundation is seeking to create more awareness with their campaign “Let’s Use Our Brains to End Epilepsy” to help the general public understand the connection between epilepsy and the brain.
The hope is that the campaign can create empathy and compassion when people see someone having a seizure, rather than fear.
Most people who have never seen someone have a seizure may not know what they should do for the sufferer.
So, part of the campaign is to educate people about what to do and how they can assist by remembering the Three S’s: Stay with the person having a seizure. Make sure they are Safe. If they are having convulsions, turn them on their side.
And remember that you should never put anything in their mouth. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call 911.
To learn more about epilepsy, visit the website at www.endepilepsy.org. The website shares stories of 14 people with diverse stories of epilepsy.