At Premier Neurology of Stuart, FL, we help individuals and families who are living with epilepsy. It is common for our doctors to hear incorrect but highly shared myths about epilepsy disorder.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurring seizures. It affects approximately 65 million people worldwide and is the fourth most common neurological disorder. For some, the condition may be hereditary. Other causes include head injury, stroke, brain tumor, or Alzheimer’s disease. Epilepsy can affect both men and women, and people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
The symptoms of epileptic seizures vary widely. Some people may experience uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs or loss of consciousness and awareness. Others may experience a brief staring spell. Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they have two consecutive seizures, one seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes, or they injure themselves during a seizure.
What Are 5 Common Epilepsy Myths?
1. If someone has a seizure, they have epilepsy.
2. During a seizure, someone could swallow their tongue.
3. Flashing lights cause seizures in everyone with epilepsy.
4. There is no way to control or treat epilepsy.
5. People with epilepsy are disabled and unable to work.
Myth #1: If Someone Has A Seizure, They Have Epilepsy
While seizures are a characteristic of epilepsy, not everyone who has a seizure necessarily has epilepsy. It is estimated that about 10% of people will experience a seizure in their life. Having a seizure is not a definitive sign that someone has epilepsy. Other causes of seizures include low blood sugar, a recent concussion, a high fever, sleep deprivation, binge drinking, or a new medication.
Myth #2: During A Seizure, Someone Could Swallow Their Tongue
This is an especially common epilepsy myth, but there is no danger of someone swallowing their tongue during a seizure. While some people believe you should place something in someone’s mouth during a seizure, this is not a good idea and poses a danger to the person experiencing the seizure. Instead, you can help the person lie down, place something soft under their head for support, and clear the area so that they have space. Stay with this person until the seizure stops and they are fully alert. Should the seizure go on for more than 5 minutes, or they do not regain consciousness after the shaking, call for medical assistance immediately.
Myth #3: Flashing Lights Cause Seizures In Everyone With Epilepsy
Only 3% of the millions of Americans living with epilepsy are photosensitive to strobe or flashing lights. Seizure triggers vary greatly from person to person. This photosensitive type of epilepsy is more common in children and young adults and can become less frequent as individuals get older.
Myth #4: There Is No Way To Control Or Treat Epilepsy
With modern medicine, there are certainly ways to treat and control epilepsy. Studies show that 2 in 3 people with epilepsy can be seizure-free with the right medication. In other cases, an epilepsy specialist can evaluate a patient to see if they are a good candidate for surgery to remove the abnormal part of the brain that causes seizures.
Myth #5: People With Epilepsy Are Disabled And Unable To Work
A common belief is that people with epilepsy are unable to be productive. This myth also goes in hand with the belief that epilepsy is a mental illness or an intellectual or developmental disability. All of the above is false. Epilepsy is a disorder that affects the central nervous system, not a mental illness or mental impairment. Up to 70% of people can manage their condition with medication. Because epilepsy affects each individual differently, people with epilepsy can lead full lives and have successful careers in a number of different professions.
Whether you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy or if you are looking for correct information about the disorder and how to help, be sure to speak to a professional or schedule your appointment at Premier Neurology and Wellness Center.