Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, a chronic disease of the brain, characterised by chronic, recurrent seizures, unconsciousness, and involuntary bowel and bladder movements. Known locally as ‘fits’ or ‘devi,’ epilepsy is often a poorly understood disorder in India and one often mired in superstition. As per WHO, 50 million people around the world are currently living with epilepsy. Seventy percent of epilepsy cases respond to treatment. But the poor availability of antiepileptic drugs and social stigma surround the disease has left three-fourths of the people living with epilepsy living in low and middle-income families devoid of treatment. Lack of awareness about the causes, symptoms and treatment of disorder has made people take recourse in superstitions and religions, consulting local witch doctors and shamans for treatment instead of doctors. On November 17, WHO observes World Epilepsy Day to dispel some of the ignorance surrounding the disease and to improve the quality of life of millions incapacitated by the illness.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain, where the person experiences recurrent seizures, unconsciousness and loss of bladder and bowel control on a regular basis. It’s non-contagious.
The disorder is caused by excessive electrical discharges in the brain cells. Seizures are not the only indicator of epilepsy, since other health conditions like high fever or hypoglycaemia can cause them. However, having two or more unprovoked seizures in one’s lifetime is an indicator. Untreated epilepsy can cause grave consequences such as injury and death.
It’s one of the oldest recognised health conditions in the world, with earliest mentions of it dating back to 4000 BC. It also happens to be one of the commonest neurological disorders in the world.
There’s considerable fear, misunderstanding and stigma surround epilepsy, which can impact people’s quality of life. By increasing people’s understanding of the disease and facilitating better treatment, they can be dispelled. This Electronic Device Could Stop Epileptic Seizures.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy?
Characteristics of the epileptic seizures depend on where the disturbance starts first and how it spreads. Some of the common, temporary symptoms include:
- Loss of awareness
- Disturbances of movement
- Loss of sensation such as vision, hearing and taste
- Loss of cognitive functions/li>
What Causes Epilepsy?
In six out of 10 cases, the cause of epilepsy is idiopathic or of unknown causes.
Secondary epilepsy or symptomatic epilepsy could be caused by:
- Brain damage
- Brain malformations at birth
- Head injury
- Brain tumour
- Brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis
- Central nervous system infections
What Are The Complications of Epileptic Seizures?
People who suffer from epileptic seizures tend to injure themselves more from falls. They also run the risk of suffering from psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. What is Epidiolex? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Marijuana-Derived Drug for Epilepsy.
People suffering from epilepsy also are three times more likely to die a premature death, according to WHO. The chances of injuries, falls, burns, drowning, etc. are more. The highest rates are found in low-and-middle-income societies and in rural areas.
How is Epilepsy Treated?
Epilepsy can be easily treated. Recent studies on low-and-middle income families, 70 percent of epilepsy cases respond favourably to treatment with anti-epileptic drugs.
A ketogenic diet has proved to be quite beneficial in controlling and treating epilepsy. Vagus nerve stimulation, epilepsy surgeries, deep brains stimulation and cannabis oil treatment are all viable options for treatment.