Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder and is one of the most prevalent noncommunicable diseases. A study found out that the estimated prevalence of epilepsy in Nigeria is 8 per 1000 people, which shows that there is a substantial burden of the disease in the country.
However, epilepsy is one of those conditions that a lot of people do not have enough information about. In Nigeria, there are a lot of ‘mysteries’ surrounding the condition. But most of that mystery has a lot to do with misinformation and misunderstanding. This has made people regard the condition as something strange or even supernatural. The effect of such type of reasoning is that it prevents people from knowing what to do when they or someone they know has an epilepsy spell.
So, in today’s post, we would be looking at some of the important things to know about epilepsy.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disease that causes seizures, often repeatedly. A seizure is a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain, according to Healthline. When an epilepsy seizure happens, a person might lose consciousness for anything within a few seconds and a few minutes. This is often like a blackout and the person might have to memory of what happened when they come to. A person is often said to have epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures twenty-four hours apart.
An epileptic seizure can affect: the whole brain, when it is known as a generalised seizure, and when it affects part of the brain when it is known as a focal or partial seizure.
It should be noted that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy but epilepsy is characterised by seizures.
What Are The Causes Of Epilepsy?
There are various things that cause epilepsy, including
- High fever
- Stroke, especially for people above 35
- Brain injury that comes with trauma, often after an accident
- Brain cyst or cyst
- Lack of oxygen to the brain
- Genetic disorders
- Neurological diseases
- Prenatal injury
- Infectious diseases like AIDS
Hereditary is one of the leading causes of epilepsy. Someone with a parent with epilepsy has a higher risk of having the disease compared to someone whose parents did not have it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Epilepsy?
Like we noted above, someone having a seizure does not automatically mean they have epilepsy. There are some other symptoms that define a person with epilepsy, including
- Repeated jerking of parts of the body like the arms and legs
- Stiffening of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Convulsion without fever
- Changing in taste, smell, sight, etc
There are more symptoms of epilepsy and it often depends on the type of epilepsy seizure the person is having or about to have.
Are They Any Treatments For Epilepsy?
Epilepsy has no cure but there are antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) that one could take to prevent seizures. AEDs have a fair success rate but their impact is often dependent on the person taking them. Surgery is also another option to explore, which often involves cuts on the brain.
Is Epilepsy Contagious?
There is often the belief, especially here in Nigeria that epilepsy is contagious. This often makes people wary of helping those with the disease, especially when they are having a seizure. But epilepsy is not contagious. One cannot get epilepsy even if the saliva or body fluid of an epileptic person touches them.
Epilepsy is Not a Spiritual Attack
A good number of Nigerians believe that epilepsy is a spiritual sickness. However, as you learned today, epilepsy is a medical condition caused by brain injury, pre natal injury, lack of oxygen etc.
Is It Safe To Put Something Between The Teeth Of An Epileptic Person?
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The simple answer is no. There is no reason you should put anything between the teeth of someone with epilepsy. First, you should know that someone would not die if their teeth close during a seizure. So there is no reason to force anything between their teeth or into their mouth. This could not injure them and also injure you as well. What do you do then?
- Lay them on one side, left side preferably
- Remove tight clothing eg belts, ties
- Take them away from danger.