Long back when human beings were not exposed to the wonders of science, many diseases and natural calamities were thought to be the wrath of God or the vengeance of the demons. Epilepsy is one such disease. It comes from the Greek word that means ‘possession’. Since this condition is defined by mild to severe seizures, it was often believed by the Greeks that they were caused by demons. Even to this day, a diagnosis of epilepsy leads to a number of irrelevant questions that do not seem to have a direct link to the disease. Can I make babies? Will I be able to lead a normal life? Will my medical condition get me a good job? Epilepsy and seizures have been tagged as a social stigma but with the coming of age, many doubts have been cleared about the disease but not completely disappeared. Individuals still have a lot of misconceptions about it.
However, let us first know a few scientific facts about epilepsy:
- Epilepsy is a neurological condition. The seizures happen due to a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Demons are not responsible in any form.
- Seizures can vary from person to person.
- All seizures don’t involve convulsions (trembling and jerking). Some act vacant and confused and wander around when having a seizure.
- The cause of epilepsy is hard to identify. It might happen due to multiple underlying conditions. It might be due to a brain injury or stroke that is the frequent cause of epilepsy in seniors.
- One-third of autistic children may develop epilepsy in the future.
Some common myths and misconceptions associated with epilepsy:
1. Restricted from living a normal life:
It is believed that epileptic individuals should refrain from doing normal jobs or driving cars, but it is not right. If you are religiously on your seizure medications, chances are that you will remain seizure-free and can take the responsibility of doing any odd jobs. But in the initial days, your doctor will monitor how the medications are controlling your seizures and once you get a medical approval, you are free to do anything.
2. Epileptic patients cannot have babies:
This might be one of the biggest myths. Be informed and aware! The fact is that more than 90% women who have been epileptic at one point of their life have had normal babies. If you wish to have a baby, don’t believe in myths floating around. Visit your doctor and make suggestions on how to plan for a successful pregnancy.
3.You should not force a spoon into the mouth of an epileptic person:
This absolutely wrong! By doing this, you might be actually hurting the person as it can chip the teeth, hurt the gums or even break the jaw. The first thing that you should do is gently roll the person to one side and cushion a folded towel or a soft pillow underneath the head to prevent injury. Also, you must not hold them down to stop the seizure. The convulsions will stop when it has to. Call an ambulance you if see the seizure continues over 5 minutes.
4. Epilepsy is contagious:
Whoever said that must have been a fool. You can never contract epilepsy from another person. If a fetus cannot contract epilepsy from the mother, of course, another person can never.
5. Epilepsy is rare and happens only in kids:
Epilepsy is common and it has been recorded that 60 million people worldwide have epilepsy. About 1 in every 100 people has epilepsy. It can happen at any age. Seizures take place in adults too and are often the after-effects of strokes and heart diseases.
6. You don’t die from epilepsy:
Epilepsy can be serious and can even cause death if prolonged seizures happen during sleep. There have been many mortality cases reported so far.
Don’t let the myths and misconceptions surrounding epilepsy concern you. There are scientific pieces of evidence to prove that epilepsy when treated, can improve life quality. Educate people and family around you and help individuals with epilepsy lead a normal and happy life.