Increasing public awareness on epilepsy is a must

July 29, 2018

TEHRAN — Promoting public awareness about epilepsy is a must, head of Iranian epilepsy association, a non-governmental organization, has said, Fars reported on Thursday.

The disease impact a person’s whole life maybe from childhood to adulthood so that taking medicine is not the only way to treat epilepsy, Daryoush Nasabi-Tehrani said, adding that the disorder will affect all aspects of a person’s life including education, employment, diet, sleep quality, family members, etc. 

Nasabi-Tehrani underscored the importance of timely diagnosis of epilepsy and identifying the symptoms by educating the public about the disease. 

He further mentioned epilepsy stigma and the need to address the superstitious beliefs about the diseases. 

Epilepsy signs and symptoms 

Recurrent seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part of the body or the entire body, which are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function are what epilepsy is normally characterized with. 

Epilepsy is defined as having 2 or more unprovoked seizures. Seizure episodes are a result of excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells, World Health Organization (WHO) wrote. Temporary symptoms can also occur, such as loss of awareness or consciousness, and disturbances of movement, sensation (including vision, hearing and taste), mood, or other cognitive functions.

People with seizures tend to have physical problems such as fractures and bruising from injuries related to seizures, as well as higher rates of psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression. Similarly, the risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to 3 times more likely than the general population, with the highest rates found in low- and middle-income countries and rural versus urban areas.

A great proportion of the causes of death related to epilepsy in low- and middle-income countries are potentially preventable, such as falls, drowning, burns and prolonged seizures.

How many people suffer epilepsy worldwide? 

Approximately 50 million people currently live with epilepsy worldwide. The estimated proportion of the general population with active epilepsy (people with continuing seizures or with the need for treatment) at a given time is between 4 and 10 per 1000 people. However, some studies in low- and middle-income countries suggest that the proportion is much higher, between 7 and 14 per 1000 people.

Globally, an estimated 2.4 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy annually. In high-income 

What causes epilepsy?

Brain damage from prenatal or perinatal injuries (e.g. a loss of oxygen or trauma during birth, low birth weight), genetic conditions with associated brain malformations, serious head injury, strokes, brain infections, and brain tumors can cause epilepsy.

Fortunately epilepsy can be treated easily and affordably with inexpensive daily medication that costs as little as $5 per year. Recent studies in both low- and middle-income countries have shown that up to 70% of children and adults with epilepsy can be successfully treated (i.e. their seizures completely controlled) with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Furthermore, after 2 to 5 years of successful treatment and being seizure-free, drugs can be withdrawn in about 70% of children and 60% of adults without subsequent relapse.

Epilepsy stigma

Epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest recognized conditions, with written records dating back to 4000 BC. Fear, misunderstanding, discrimination and social stigma have surrounded epilepsy for centuries. This stigma continues in many countries today and can impact on the quality of life for people with the disorder and their families.

Speaking at the International League Against Epilepsy neuropsychiatry of epilepsy symposium in London Epilepsy expert Sallie Baxendale said that epilepsy stigma can be worse than seizures. 

There are many campaigns that are in circulation to eradicate epilepsy stigma, but more input is needed to help make epilepsy stigma a thing of the past. The media can play the biggest part in eradication stigma surrounding epilepsy. 

MQ/MG

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