Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures, which are sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain. These seizures can vary in intensity and type, affecting individuals differently. The impact of epilepsy on human life can be profound, extending beyond the physical manifestations of seizures. It can lead to social stigma, limited employment opportunities, and challenges in education and daily activities. Additionally, managing epilepsy often requires lifelong medication and regular medical supervision. Due to its intricate nature, this condition is surrounded by myths and misconceptions.
On World Epilepsy Day, Health Shots got in touch with Neurologist Dr Kunal Bahrani, to debunk common myths about epilepsy.
Here are 9 myths about epilepsy that you should stop believing:
Fact: One of the most pervasive myths about epilepsy is that it can be transmitted from person to person through contact. But epilepsy is not contagious. It is a neurological condition caused by various factors, such as genetics, brain injury, infections, or developmental disorders.
Fact: Another misconception is that epilepsy is a form of mental illness or a sign of intellectual disability. While epilepsy can coexist with mental health conditions or developmental disorders, it is primarily a neurological disorder affecting the brain’s electrical activity.
Fact: While epilepsy is often diagnosed in childhood, it can affect people of all ages. The onset of epilepsy can occur at any stage of life, from infancy to old age. Some individuals may develop epilepsy later in life due to factors such as head trauma, stroke, or brain tumors.
Fact: Despite advances in medical treatment, many people believe that epilepsy is a life-threatening condition. While seizures can pose risks, especially if left untreated or poorly managed, the majority of people with epilepsy can lead long and healthy lives with proper medication, lifestyle modifications, and seizure management strategies.
Fact: Another myth perpetuated about epilepsy is that individuals with the condition are incapable of living independently. While epilepsy may present challenges in certain situations, many people with epilepsy lead independent lives, pursue higher education and maintain successful careers.
Fact: While photosensitive epilepsy does exist, not all individuals with epilepsy are sensitive to flashing lights or visual stimuli. Only a small percentage of people with epilepsy experience seizures triggered by specific visual patterns or flickering lights. For the majority of individuals with epilepsy, seizures are more likely to be triggered by factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, medication changes, or hormonal fluctuations.
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Fact: Contrary to popular belief, epilepsy is a highly treatable condition for many individuals. Antiepileptic medications, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgical interventions can effectively control seizures and improve quality of life.
Fact: Possibly the most harmful myth of all is the idea that having epilepsy prevents a person from living a normal, fulfilling life. While epilepsy may require certain accommodations and adjustments, it does not define a person’s identity or limit their potential. When people with epilepsy have access to quality medical care, social support, and education, they can achieve their objectives, build meaningful connections, and participate in a variety of activities.
Fact: While it’s important to ensure the person having a seizure is safe from harm (for example, by moving objects away from them), restraining them can potentially cause injury.
Now, make sure you don’t fall for these myths about epilepsy!