Saturday, March 07, 2009

According to Epilepsy Canada, approximately 1 per cent of the population, about 300,000 Canadians have epilepsy.

Sadly, people with epilepsy deal with discrimination every day due to the many misunderstandings and stigmas surrounding the disorder.

They are often refused employment although they have the same abilities and intelligence as everyone else. Children are often taunted and laughed at by their schoolmates. And teachers often do not realize when a student is having an absence seizure and accuse them of not paying attention or daydreaming.

Epilepsy not a Disease but a Symptom of a Neurological Disorder

Epilepsy is not contagious and it is not a disease. Epilepsy Canada explains epilepsy is a symptom of a neurological disorder -- a physical condition which causes a malfunction of the electrical signals which control the operation of the brain. It is characterized by sudden brief seizures whose nature and intensity varies from person to person.

Anyone Can Develop Epilepsy

Anyone can develop epilepsy at any time. In fact, according to Epilepsy Canada, each day an average of 38 Canadians learn that they have epilepsy. This year, an average of 14,000 people will learn that they have epilepsy, 44 per cent are diagnosed before the age of five, 55 per cent before age 10, and 1.3 per cent are over the age of 60. About 60 per cent of new patients are young children and senior citizens.

The cause of epilepsy in 75 per cent of children and 50 per cent of adults with the disorder is unknown. In the remainder the following causes are often identified: brain tumor and stroke, head trauma, injury, infection or systemic illness during pregnancy; aftermath of meningitis, or viral encephalitis.

What Does a Seizure Appear Like?

A seizure may appear as a brief stare, an unusual movement of the body, a change of awareness, or a convulsion. A seizure may last a few seconds or a few minutes. There are more than 40 different types of seizures.

Although treatments are available to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, there is no known cure for epilepsy.

Advances in Epileptic Medications

In recent years, advances have been made in medications. Side effects, which may have limited the usefulness of anti-convulsant drugs in the past, are now less problematic. A number of add-on drugs have been developed to control specific seizure types. More than 60 per cent of people with epilepsy are able to control their seizures using medications.

Brain surgery is possible when medication does not help and when the site of the malfunction is clearly defined and accessible without affecting the personality or brain function.

The following is what you should do if you see someone having a seizure:

  • Remain calm. You cannot stop a seizure once it has started. Experts suggest that it is best that you let the seizure run its course.
  • Do not try to revive the person.
  • Prevent injury to the person having the seizure. If he is in a chair ease him to the floor. Protect him from injury by removing objects that are likely to cause injury -- anything that is sharp, hot or breakables.
  • Do not put anything in the person's mouth while he is having a seizure.
  • Do not restrain him.
  • Loosen his clothing.
  • After the seizure the person should be allowed to rest or sleep.
  • If the person undergoes a series of convulsions, seek medical attention immediately.

For more information contact Epilepsy Canada Toll free: 1-877-SEIZURE (734-0873).

The copyright of the article Epilepsy a Neurological Disorder in Epilepsy is owned by Cheryl La Rocque. Permission to republish Epilepsy a Neurological Disorder in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


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