International Epilepsy Day is a special event that promotes awareness of epilepsy in more than 130 countries each year. On the second Monday of February, every year people join together to acknowledge and highlight the problems faced by people with epilepsy, their families, and carers.
In an exclusive interview with the HealthWire, Dr. Manjari Tripathi, Professor of Neurology at AIIMS Delhi, talks about many issues related to the disease, and the social stigma attached with epilepsy:
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that occurs due to the neurons in the brain. There are millions of neurons in the brain and there is an electrical short circuit or electrical current which is discharged excessively in the brain due to which a patient who has epilepsy lose control of them.
There can be two types of epilepsy: convulsions like major ones and minor ones. In major ones, the patient becomes unconscious and falls to the ground; may bite his tongue; the urine may come out and there is a movement in the hands and the legs. In the minor ones, the person may have just the twitching of the face or may have jerking of one hand or may just become blank. In the minor ones, the patient doesn’t fall. These are two broad categories of seizures and if anyone has one or any unprovoked seizures then we can say that the person has epilepsy and these seizures can occur at any point in time in life.
What are the common causes of Epilepsy?
There can be many causes of epilepsy. Many causes of epilepsy are preventable. Adequate perinatal care can reduce new cases of epilepsy caused by birth injury.
Hypoxia occurs when a baby receives inadequate oxygen to its brain before, during, or after delivery. The condition can lead to seizures or epilepsy.
However, infections in the brain or meningitis or encephalitis can also cause epilepsy. Neurocysticercosis is a preventable parasitic infection of the central nervous system and is caused by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium. Young people love to eat out. In many restaurants, food hygiene is not maintained. Eating raw veggies or salad are one of the biggest causes of tapeworm infection. Most veggies have them.
Head injuries or road accidents can also cause epilepsy
One of the common causes of epilepsy in young adults nowadays are the head injuries and road accidents. Not wearing helmets and seat belts while driving can result in a serious accident and damage the head. Everything seems okay in the initial few years, but later on, few of them may have epilepsy.
Is it inherited or is due to genetics?
Only a few cases of epilepsy are caused by genetic predisposition. The majority of epilepsy cases is not inherited.
Social stigmas that are still related to this
Anybody can have epilepsy — a child, a middle-aged person, or an old person. In our society, the male gender is quite privileged than the female gender. If a woman or a girl has epilepsy, she faces the worst type of discrimination. A young girl with epilepsy cannot get married or can’t lead a normal life like others. Many people still believe that If a woman with epilepsy cannot get pregnant. Even if she gives birth, her child will too have epilepsy. All these are myths and are not based on scientific evidence.
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