Addressing The Common Myths and Misconceptions About Epilepsy
Author: Yakubu Aliu Opeyemi
Epilepsy is a chronic non-contagious disease of the brain with about 50 million people affected worldwide. According to WHO, an approximate population of 10 million people in Africa suffers from the disease. The disease is characterized by occurrences of unprovoked recurrent seizure ensuing from the irregular electrical activity of the brain resulting in involuntary movements, changes in perception, behaviour and awareness.
The majority of those living with epilepsy experience social stigma and humiliation that have impacted significantly the quality of their life and family members. Violation of human rights, fear and discrimination are daily challenges confronting people living with epilepsy in a different part of the world especially those in low and middle-income countries. Body fluids (blood, saliva) of people living with epilepsy are considered contagious, and this makes people desert them when they are having a seizure without helping them leading to bodily injury and death. Despite the efforts at enlightening the public over the years about epilepsy, myths and misconceptions still besiege the disease.
Let us debunk some myths of epilepsy.
Myth 1: It is contagious.
Fact: It is a non-communicable disease that cannot be spread from one individual to another.
Myth 2: It is caused by evil spirits and supernatural power.
Fact: This is a false belief that is propagated mainly by TV series and movies. Causes of epilepsy include head injury, brain tumour, infections, metabolic imbalance and idiopathic.
Myth 3: people having a seizure can swallow their tongue.
Fact: They can’t swallow their tongue while having a seizure. Witnesses should stop putting objects into their mouth because this act can cause injury and trauma to them.
Myth 4: people having a seizure should be restrained.
Fact: physical restrains should not be done during/after seizure as this don’t stop/slow down the seizure. Eyewitnesses should make sure that the surrounding is safe for them by putting away objects that can harm them.
Myth 5: putting food, water or fluids stop the seizure.
Fact: this is a harmful practice that can cause aspirations and death. Nothing should be put into their mouth during fit until they are fully awake.
Myth 6: Epilepsy only affects children.
Fact: it can affect any age group.
Myth 7: There’s no treatment for epilepsy.
Fact: several antiepileptic drugs are utilized in the management of the disease. About 70% of those living with epilepsy can be seizure-free with medications.
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