This article was prompted by 3 stories. A man came off an Okada bike in Lagos. He then started having a seizure where upon some people got sticks and stones and started beating him up. Because, according to them, he must have offended the gods! Secondly, I heard about a chap who suffers from epilepsy and has been drinking cows’ urine for years. He still has epilepsy!! Finally, a mother whose child had a convulsion was asked by ‘
What is epilepsy? The medical definition of epilepsy is ‘repeated seizures or convulsions (or fits) due to a brain problem’. Epilepsy is a manifestation of a problem with the brain. It is due to something irritating the brain.
How does epilepsy occur?
The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells and connections. The normal brain is constantly producing electrical rhythms in an orderly way. However,
What causes epilepsy
Defining Epilepsy: a disease or a disorder? Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a disorder. A frequently used diagnostic criterion for epilepsy is two or more seizures within a year. A seizure is a symptom or sign of this disorder rather than the diagnosis. It just means something has gone wrong inside the brain
Different seizures in different age groups
What types of people have seizures?Anyone can have a seizure. It is something that is happening to the brain of the person and can be caused by many things. It can happen to the rich, poor, educated or illiterate and people of all ages. It happens in all countries in the World and affects white, yellow, red and black people. It is no more common here in Nigeria than anywhere else in the World.
What does a seizure (epileptic fit) look like? There are 3 common types. There is the simple partial type in which a part of the brain is occasionally disrupted, manifesting in repeated movements of a part of the body, but the person does not lose consciousness and is fully aware of what is going on. Then there is the complex partial type, in which a part of the brain is occasionally disrupted, manifesting in the form of decreased awareness with or without repeated movements of a part of the body. Finally, there is the generalized type, in which the entire brain is disrupted at once and these patients lose consciousness frequently accompanied by jerking around, foaming at the mouth, and involuntarily urinating on themselves.
About 90% of seizures are self-limiting lasting seconds to no more than 5 minutes. After a complex or generalized seizure has ended, patients can be disoriented or sleepy for several minutes thereafter. If a seizure lasts for more than 10 minutes, that is unusual and is a reason to take the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible. Self-limiting seizures do not cause brain damage, but prolonged seizures certainly can, and so it is important for the patient to get to the hospital wher
How should people treat someone having a seizure? Make sure they do not injure themselves during the period of loss of consciousness. Move objects that can harm the person, out of the way. If possible, place a pillow under the person’s head so that the head doesn’t bang against the floor causing injury. Keep calm and try not to panic. Let the seizure run its course and do not hold them down. If possible move them to a comfortable place and let them sleep or at least have a good rest once the seizure is over. Please check to make sure they are breathing well.
What you should NOT do? Please do not pour anything into the mouth of someone having a convulsion, not even tablets.
How is epilepsy diagnosed
Who cannot help the patient? Churches, mosques, herbalists and traditional healers cannot diagnose or treat epilepsy. This is a fact. Many pastors and traditional healers prey on patients and thrive on the misery of the family. Avoid these people.
What are the treatment options available to patients? Epilepsy can be treated, controlled and rarely, cured. Epilepsy can be well controlled by medications. There are up to 20 different types of drugs used to treat epilepsy. The doctor needs to find the perfect drug for the patient and then prescribe it based on the age and weight to get optimum control of the seizures.
Can epilepsy be cured? Epilepsy can be cured depending on the cause. For example, if it is due to a brain
Are the drugs within reach and what are the cost implications
What are the myths and misconceptions about epilepsy?
- Many people think that epilepsy is due to a spiritual attack and that the demon must be cast out of the patient. This is incorrect.
- Some say that epilepsy is contagious and can spread from one person to another. This is also not correct.
- Epilepsy is also not a mental illness. Seizures are mainly a symptom that there is a physical problem, like a scar, on the brain. Some people with epilepsy are extremely clever, others are of average intelligence and some have learning difficulties.
- Epilepsy is not a bar to success in life. Many people with epilepsy enjoy highly successful lives. The problem is often other people who put them down.
- Epilepsy is not generally an inherited condition. Although, there can be a genetic predisposition, more often than not, there is no family history of epilepsy.
The famous question: Is epilepsy contagious?Epilepsy is not contagious. That is a fact. Epilepsy is also not a disease. It is the symptom of other things that is wrong with the brain. Medications work to control the seizures if used properly. The choice of drug and the dosage must be correct. Find a doctor who knows.
Finally, add prayers BUT please do not stop the treatment.
Written by Dr. Biodun Ogungbo.
Article published with the consent of the Author.