National Epilepsy Awareness Month: November
Quick Facts about Epilepsy
- Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder and affects people of all ages.
- Epilepsy means the same thing as "seizure disorders"
- Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems.
- Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying on a case-by-case basis.
Epilepsy Foundation (n.d.). What is epilepsy? Retrieved from https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/about-epilepsy-basics/what-epilepsy.
Facts and Myths about Epilepsy
Myth: Individuals who have seizures risk swallowing their tongues and should have something placed in their mouths for preventative measures.
You can’t swallow your tongue during a seizure. It's physically impossible.
You should NEVER force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure. Absolutely not! Forcing something into the mouth of someone having a seizure is a good way to chip teeth, cut gums, or even break someone's jaw. The correct first aid is simple. Just gently roll the person on one side, support their head, protect from injury, and make sure their breathing is okay.
Myth: It is best to try and retain the individual experiencing a seizure.
DON'T restrain someone having a seizure. Most seizures end in seconds or a few minutes and will end on their own. You can protect the person from injury by following simple first-aid guidelines.
Myth: Epilepsy in contagious.
Epilepsy is NOT contagious. You simply can't catch epilepsy from another person.
Anyone can develop epilepsy. Seizures start for the first time in people over age 65 almost as often as it does in children. Seizures in the elderly are often the after effect of other health problems like stroke and heart disease.
Myth: Individuals with epilepsy cannot perform daily tasks.
Most people with epilepsy CAN DO the same things that people without epilepsy can do. However, some people with frequent seizures may not be able to work, drive, or may have problems in other parts of their life.
People with epilepsy CAN handle jobs with responsibility and stress. People with seizure disorders are found in all walks of life. They may work in business, government, the arts and all sorts of professions. If stress bothers their seizures, they may need to learn ways to manage stress at work. But everyone needs to learn how to cope with stress! There may be some types of jobs that people with epilepsy can’t do because of possible safety problems. Otherwise, having epilepsy should not affect the type of job or responsibility that a person has.
Myth: There is a cure for individuals with epilepsy.
Even with today's medication, epilepsy CANNOT be cured. Epilepsy is a chronic medical problem that for many people can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, treatment doesn't work for everyone. AT LEAST 1 million people in the United States have uncontrolled epilepsy. There is still an urgent need for more research, better treatments and a cure.
Epilepsy is NOT rare. There are more than twice as many people with epilepsy in the US as the number of people with cerebral palsy (500,000), muscular dystrophy (250,000), multiple sclerosis (350,000), and cystic fibrosis (30,000) combined. Epilepsy can occur as a single condition, or may be seen with other conditions affecting the brain, such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, autism, Alzheimer's, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).