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Quick Facts about Epilepsy
  • Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by convulsions, seizures or fits. These occur due to a sudden abnormal discharge from the brain cells or neurons.

  • It is common as 1 in 150 people suffer from it worldwide.

  • The cause of this is not easily identifiable in a large number of individuals, but can occur following birth injuries to the brain, lack of glucose or oxygen to the brain, head injuries, strokes, tumours, etc .

  • People with epilepsy can study, play, marry and have children and work and be useful and active citizens of the community.

Limitations

  • There are however a few limitations in employment. A person with active epilepsy cannot work at heights, near water, jobs involving moving machinery or driving.

  • Sometimes the epileptic are not accepted for jobs involving public interaction, typically in hotels, schools etc as their seizure may frighten those with whom they interact.

  • Besides this there are some life style limitations, which are necessary. It is essential to get 6-8 hours of sleep every day as sleep deprivation can bring on seizures. Fasting or missing meals brings down blood glucose and this can also precipitate seizures. Watching too much TV or spending long hours with the computer can also provoke seizures, especially in those with photosensitive epilepsy. Being out for long in very hot sun, undue anxiety or tension can also provoke seizures in a person with epilepsy. Most of these life style habits are good for general health.

Treatment Options

  • Epilepsy is easily treatable with drugs to be taken for 3 to 5 years in over 70% of patients. Most of the drugs are safe in long term use and with proper monitoring of treatment, it is possible to have minimal or no side effects

  • In the 30% of patients seizures do not come down with standard medicines. Some of them can improve by adding newer drugs, which are more expensive and have less side effects but seem to be more useful as add on drugs. A few patients in this group on evaluation may be suitable for epilepsy surgery, in which the bad portion of the brain causing the seizure can be removed.

This is inefficient and damaged brain and removing this will only benefit and not harm the individual. However some patients may not be suitable candidates for surgery and may not get better and may have to take drugs lifelong and continue to have seizures.

Campaign Against Discrimination

  • In view of the scientific facts about epilepsy there is no place for fear, stigma or marginalisation of people with epilepsy who can ”Live a full life with everyone, like everyone in spite of epilepsy”

  • Epilepsy is one of the oldest disorders known and yet people with epilepsy are still viewed with suspicion and misunderstanding, and in many cases face horrendous stigma. 70 to 80% of people with epilepsy could lead normal lives if properly treated; yet currently approximately 80 to 90% of people with epilepsy are not properly treated.

  • This is the reason that a “Global Campaign against Epilepsy” was launched by the WHO/ILAE/IBE in 1997 to bring epilepsy “ Out of the Shadows” to increase awareness, reduce the treatment gap, making available appropriate treatment for all those who need it and improve the condition of people with epilepsy in society.

The Campaign, initiated in 1997, plans to raise general awareness and understanding of epilepsy, as well as to support Departments of Health in identifying the needs and promoting education, training, treatment, services, research and prevention needed on a national level.

The 2nd Phase of the Campaign, which will run for the next four years, will focus on the improvement of health care services, treatment, prevention and social acceptance of epilepsy world wide.

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