12 Common Epilepsy Myths, Dispelled.
Myth 1: People with epilepsy are mentally ill or emotionally unstable.
Fact: Epilepsy is a term that encompasses many types of seizure and epileptic disorders. It is a functional, physical problem, not a mental one, and it has many unidentifiable causes.
Myth 2: If you’ve ever had a seizure, you have epilepsy.
Fact: A person is only diagnosed with epilepsy when he or she has two or more unprovoked (unexpected) seizures that occur more than 24 hours apart. But when something provokes a seizure, such as heavy drinking, sleep deprivation or a new medication, these are not related to epilepsy.
Myth 3: People with epilepsy aren’t as smart as other “normal people”.
Fact: First of all, people that are epileptic are not “Abnormal people”. So people are just people. Secondly, Epilepsy has little to no effect on a person’s ability to think, except during some seizures, during a short period following some seizures and sometimes as a side effect of certain anti-epileptic medications.
Myth 4: People who are epileptic can’t handle high-pressure, demanding jobs.
Fact: They often can, and they do. Most professions — including those in the highest tiers of business, government, justice system, sports and medicine — can accommodate a person with epilepsy.
Myth 5: It’s easy to tell when a seizure is about to happen.
Fact: Medical experts can’t yet predict when seizures are beginning, although some patients say they can feel a brief sensation within seconds of a seizure — which we call an “aura.”
Myth 6: Seizures hurt.
Fact: A person is unconscious and not in any pain during most seizures. Afterward, the patient could feel discomfort if he or she falls down, has muscle aches or if he or she bit their tongue (during a grand mal seizure).
Myth 7: Epilepsy is most common in children.
Fact: Epilepsy is most common in both the very young and the elderly. However, it can develop at any age.
Myth 8: During a seizure, a person could swallow or choke on his or her tongue.
Fact: This is impossible. The worst thing that can happen during a seizure is that a person could bite his or her tongue.
Myth 9: You should force an object into the mouth of someone having a seizure.
Fact: Never put anything into a person’s mouth if they are having a seizure. This could actually injure them. Roll the person on one side, keep him or her a safe distance from any nearby objects, and let the seizure run its course. If you see any signs of distress or if the seizure persists for more than a couple of minutes, call in an emergency.
Myth 10: Women with epilepsy can’t conceive or shouldn’t get pregnant.
Fact: Epilepsy does not generally affect a woman’s ability to conceive and has a minimal effect on a child’s development. However, if women are taking anti-epileptic drugs, the risk of birth defects ranges from 2% to 10% and this is a bigger concern.
Myth 11: Epilepsy is hereditary
Fact: Kids of parents with some forms of epilepsy are at higher risk of developing it, but the risk is very low. This is because a single gene problem rarely causes epilepsy; it usually involves a combination of multiple gene defects.
Myth 12: You can’t live a full, normal life with epilepsy.
Fact: Epilepsy can affect a person’s lifestyle, but you can live a full life. Live your life, but live with moderation. Avoid extremes in lifestyle.