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Sunday, 25 January 2015

What is 'Epilepsy'?

'Epilepsy' is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

  • It is a short circuit in the brain's electro-chemical activity is a seizure. A tendency to have unprovoked seizures is epilepsy.

  • About 10 per cent of all patients have clear genetic causes. In others, brain trauma (in pregnancy or later life), infections (cysticercosis and tuberculosis), inflammations, tumours; brain scarring due to poor blood supply (ischemia) and degeneration contribute.

  • In over 85% of cases, epilepsy can be treated successfully (either complete absence of seizures or a substantial reduction). A range of drugs, surgical treatments and brain stimulation procedures are available.

  • As far as leading normal life, people with epilepsy can study, hold responsible jobs, get married, have children, play sport and engage in social, cultural activities. Limitations if any are related to driving a motorised vehicle (law varies across countries), taking part in adventure sports, swimming without supervision etc.

  • Epilepsy is not contagious. Prevention starts at conception with good maternal health and antenatal care. Good care of the newborn, appropriate nutrition, prevention of infections, head injuries especially road traffic accidents, early diagnosis and treatment of seizures are the cornerstones of prevention.

  • When a person has a seizure, put them on their side comfortably (the recovery position), remove all dangerous objects which are sharp or emit heat and provide a soft head rest. Seconds to minutes, the person can be held gently until the event. It is not at all advisable to try and insert hands in to their mouth and / or hold them forcefully / interrupt the seizure. Given them keys or metal to hold has no medical impact. Calling an ambulance immediately will be good.