Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by unpredictable and recurrent seizures. It occurs due to the malfunctioning of electrical signals in the brain, and the intensity and frequency depend on the part of the brain impacted.
Sometimes, seizures caused due to low blood sugar, high fever, or as a part of withdrawal symptoms of quitting alcohol or smoking could be mistaken as epilepsy. But, the symptoms of epilepsy are more than just seizures and include, a blank stare, temporary confusion, uncontrollable jerking movements of hands and legs, and loss of consciousness.
However, there is a stigma attached to epilepsy across most of the cultures, and patients with epilepsy are still being treated abnormally. The main reason for this could be a lack of awareness of the exact condition and unpreparedness for the situation. Below are some myths attached to epilepsy, which need to be debunked.
1. Spiritual Possession Causes Epilepsy
Though many cultures have overcome the myth that epilepsy is caused due to spiritual possession, some cultures still believe in it. Epilepsy organizations across the world are trying to spread the awareness that it is a serious medical condition and not spiritual possession. This awareness not just helps debunk the myth, but also throws light on the first-aid for epilepsy, which could help save lives.
2. Genetics Is The Main Cause Of Epilepsy
Any person of any age could be a victim of epilepsy. Although genetics might be one of the causes, there could be various other reasons like a brain tumor, severe head injury, or stroke which could induce seizures. Studies show that in around 80% of the cases, the exact reason for the onset of epilepsy is not known.
3. Epilepsy Is Contagious
Just like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, epilepsy is not contagious. Though they are electrical signals, the seizures won’t get transferred to you if you are helping a person with epilepsy!
4. One Swallows His Tongue During Seizure
This is one of the most impractical myths attached to epilepsy, which is highly impossible. There is also a practice of stuffing something into the mouth of the person having seizures, to prevent swallowing the tongue. This wouldn’t just increase the risk of dental injuries and bruises, but would also choke the person due to blockage of air.
As a first-aid, it is suggested that you turn the person to one side, and place something soft below his head during seizures.
5. One Can’t Be Intelligent If He Has Epilepsy
If you are one amongst those who still believe in this myth, Sir Issac Newton, Agatha Christie, and Beethoven were some of the famous personalities who had epilepsy. The levels of intelligence have got nothing to do with epilepsy. However, the learning phase could get impacted if the seizures are frequent, and side-effects of the drugs prevail.
This fact also clarifies that this disease cannot stop one from having a challenging career or leading a normal family life. It is an abnormal medical condition which can be managed.
6. Convulsions Are The Only Symptoms Of Epilepsy
Research indicates that some cases of epilepsy do not get immediate attention and help, just because people believe convulsions are the only symptoms of epilepsy. Practically, an epileptic episode could involve just a blank stare, or rapid blinks, loss of consciousness and stiffening of the body followed by jerks, or repeated lip smacking. It is important to be aware of these conditions and offer timely help.
7. Seizures Occur Frequently
Epilepsy affects different people differently. While some cases could be severe and seizures could be frequent, some cases do not show the symptoms for years. Medical help is required if the convulsions are persistent, and the person doesn’t regain consciousness even after 3 to 5 minutes. In cases when it is a small episode of 30 seconds, medical help might not be needed and the prescribed daily dosage of medications would just be fine.
It is important to understand that like any other medical condition, even this can be managed efficiently. Understanding the right things and spreading awareness about it plays an important role.