Epilepsy may be one of the world’s oldest recognized conditions, According to PubMed Central, “Epilepsy's long history can be traced back to a 4000-year-old Akkadian tablet found in Mesopotamia; inscribed on it is a description of a person with "his neck turning left, hands and feet are tense, and his eyes wide open, and from his mouth froth is flowing without him having any consciousness"
Living with an epilepsy diagnosis and the associated stigmas can be harder to handle than the condition itself. Epilepsy and seizures are assumed to be synonymous, and being stereotyped instead of understood has an impact on almost every part of daily life.
Often misunderstood, epilepsy is a neurological disorder commonly known for its unexpected, recurring episodes of physical, sensory, or cognitive dysfunction. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms and many potential causes.
Every year, the 2nd Monday in February is International Epilepsy Day which aims to bring awareness, understanding through events around the globe and to celebrate those living with this condition.
What is Epilepsy?
If you search online for the definition of epilepsy, you will quickly see different sources offer very different explanations as to what it actually is. Some categorize it as a rare disease, others as a common condition and one simply defines it as seizures this only adds to the stigma associated with this condition, it’s no wonder those with a diagnosis feel misunderstood.
Epilepsy is a group of disorders of the central nervous system that often causes unexpected seizures, unusual sensations or actions, lack of focus, even loss of consciousness. Treatment and self care can have a big impact on managing and reducing symptoms with many improving to the point that treatment may no long be requires,
There are many potential ways epilepsy can develop, abnormal brain activity or imbalances with our neurotransmitters, developmental disorders of the brain, a head injury or illness that has caused brain damage, tumors, strokes, aneurysms even combination of these. In the majority of cases, there may be no detectable cause for epilepsy.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
There is a broad spectrum of symptoms that range from mild to acute in severity. Mild symptoms may present as muscle twitches or stiffness, losing awareness or seeming lost in thought, strange or unusual sensations like tingling arms and legs, and abnormal smells or taste where these senses seem “off”.
Extreme symptoms like more commonly associated are uncontrollable seizures and losing awareness or consciousness which can increase risk of injury to the individual, those trying to provide care or others in close proximity.
If you are personally experiencing new, severe, or ongoing symptoms, please reach out to your care provider.
Treatment Options for Epilepsy epilepsy, treatment options, medication, surgery
There are a number of treatment options for managing the symptoms associated with epilepsy. Medication is a common intervention, anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) have shown to have good success helping to control severe symptoms like seizures in approximately 7 out of 10 people. These AEDs work by helping to balance levels of chemicals that are in your brain.
Surgery can be performed for some where a small part of the brain that's causing the seizures is removed. There is another procedure where a small electrical device is placed inside the body that can help control and manage seizures.
Nutrition planning can have a huge positive impact on many health conditions, a special diet (ketogenic diet) has been found to help control seizures and many other symptoms.
Exercise and getting activity does not necessarily present risk or worsen epilepsy and often has been found to improve seizure control through an increase in overall health. It is safe for those with epilepsy to participate in most sports unless your care provider has advised otherwise. Research has shown that consistent aerobic exercise like walking, running, swimming, and biking can result in a significant reduction in the number of seizures for some people, along with the other know overall health benefits.
International Epilepsy Day
International Epilepsy Day, a joint initiative created by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), is a global event celebrated every year on the 2nd Monday of February, to raise awareness on epilepsy around the world.
In 2023, International Epilepsy Day will focus on the theme of “stigma” as misconceptions and myths often contribute to the stereotype surrounding epilepsy. As an example, many assume that epilepsy is a mental illness, that it limits activities, or even think epilepsy is contagious.
This year’s International Epilepsy Day campaign seeks to dispel these myths. By sharing facts about epilepsy, we will challenge public misconceptions about epilepsy.
On Monday, February 13, 2023, there will be a worldwide effort to get #epilepsyday to trend on Twitter and other social media sites and you are encouraged to post a photo on this day using a sheet of paper to display the hashtag #EpilepsyIs with your own personal message.
Caring for someone with epilepsy or if dealing with a diagnosis yourself can at times seem overwhelming and it’s critical to devote some time to self care. As there are both physical and mental impacts with this condition, managing stress, ensuring you have adequate rest and recovery as well as an appropriate level of activity can have a huge positive impact. Discuss the best approach for you with your doctor or care provider.
Many of our Lifepro members are living active lives and managing well with their epilepsy. They are using vibration plates, lifting weights, managing aches and stiffness with light therapies, infrared saunas and massage devices the list of options goes on and on and it’s worth some time exploring alternative activities and therapies before considering invasive surgeries or other treatments.
Join our Live Q & A session on Monday Feb 13th for an interactive session aimed at bringing awareness and understanding about epilepsy as well as exploring alternative activity and therapies available with Lifepro.