Dr S K Gupta
Today is the National Epilepsy Day and let us know some facts regarding epilepsy. Epilepsy is treatable disease and not caused by Evil Spirits or Super natural factors which is still believed in the majority of population in our country. Though it is the second most common neurological disorder but still it is poorly understood even today. Historically, epilepsy has received little public health attention despite poor health outcomes and potentially devastating social consequences from untreated disease.
Causes of Epilepsy
National Epilepsy Day
There is no single cause of Epilepsy. Many factors can injure the nerve cell in the brain.
The following are some of the most frequently identifiable causes in small number of cases:-
* Head injury that causes damage to the brain tissue.
* Trauma at birth, or high fever.
* Certain drugs or toxic substances when administered in large, doses.
* Interruption of blood flow to the brain caused by stroke or certain cardiovascular problems.
* Diseases which alter the balance of blood or its chemical structure, or diseases that damage the nerve cells of the brain.
* Infections, Viral, N.C.C., Tuberculosis, Bacterial etc.
However, in some cases, Epilepsy could also be due to some unidentified disorders and in 75% of cases there is no known cause and this is known as Idiopathic Epilepsy.
Factors which trigger seizures:-
* Lack of sleep
* High fever
* Loud noise (Discos, Television, Video games etc.)
* Stressful conditions
* Flashing lights
* Drug withdrawal etc.
The failures in understanding and treating epilepsy, has resulted in resistant chronic seizures, which is due to socio-economic problems, misbelieves and prejudices, since majority of people in our country wants to hide the disease.
Some Do’s about Epilepsy which General Public should understand.
* Have normal interaction with family and friends and keep self confidence and be optimistic.
* Never hide the disease.
* Always consult nearest primary care physician and if he feels then consult Neurologist.
* Avoid stressful conditions.
* Take epileptic drugs regularly.
* Have proper sleep and good diet, and a healthy life style all these may assist in the maintenance of optimum seizure control.
* See your doctor regularly.
* Keep stock of medicines and don’t change brand of drugs even if the seizures are controlled.
* Do not jump to conclusions regarding your epilepsy.
* Do not withdraw socially or become isolated.
* Do not indulge in alcohol or drug abuse.
* Do not let epilepsy stand in your way of achieving your goals in life.
* Do not stop medicines of your own.
* Do not hesitate to report any side effect or drug intolerance to your doctor.
* Avoid very bright light and loud noise.
* Do not discontinue or reduce drugs during some concurrent illness or pregnancy or otherwise. These are the common causes of uncontrolled epilepsy.
* Avoid going near fire, deep water or over heights.
Facts About Epilepsy
* Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent fits.
* Epilepsy is not the curse of God.
* Epilepsy is not infectious or contagious.
* Epilepsy is not caused by evil spirits or supernatural factors.
* Most fits terminate spontaneously.
* Procedures like making the patient smell a shoe or hitting with a broom have no role in the control of fits.
* Beware of Quacks.
* Epileptics need social and family support.
* A proper family attitude should be cultivated.
* Do not restrict the activities of the patients once the fits are controlled.
During the Fit take Following Precautions
Keep claim, you cannot stop a seizure once it has started. Let the seizure run its own course. Do not try to overpower the person.
* Ease the person to the floor and loosen clothing.
* Try to remove the any hard, sharp, or hot objects that might injure the person. It may be necessary to place a cushion or soft item under their head.
* Turn the patient to one side to drain saliva from the mouth.
* Let the patient rest or sleep for sometime after the convulsion.
* In case of a child having seizure, contact his/her parents or guardian.
* If the person undergoes a series of convulsions, with each successive one occurring before he or she fully recovered consciousness, or a single seizure lasting longer than 10 minutes, you should immediately consult a neurologist and shift the patient to the hospital.
* Do not force or insert anything in the mouth of the patient.
* Do not restrain the convulsive movements while holding or protecting the patients from injury.
* Do not crowd around the patient, allow free air circulation.
* Do not offer anything to eat or drink till he/she is fully conscious.
People with epilepsy can marry and women can produce children and breast feed their new born under the guidance of the Neurologist and Gynaecologist. With the advancement in the treatment, epilepsy can be treated easily in almost 80% of the patients. With the discovery of new medicines for epilepsy, it is very safe to use them for a longer time.
(The author is a Neurologist)