Every February 12, the world celebrates International Epilepsy Day, which aims to raise awareness about this neurological condition that affects millions of people around the world. The initiative, created by the International Office of Epilepsy (OIE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (Ilae), seeks to eliminate the stigma associated with the condition, educate society, and encourage support for people living with epilepsy. Many affected people face stigma and discrimination due to a lack of general information about the condition.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 50 million people suffer from it, making it one of the most common neurological diseases in the world.
What is it and how does it affect people
Its symptoms can vary widely, ranging from brief periods of absence to more intense seizures; This diversity highlights the complexity of this condition.
Seizures are caused by excessive electrical discharge in a group of brain cells. These range from brief lapses of attention or muscle spasms to more severe and prolonged seizures. The frequency of attacks can range from less than once a year to several times a day.
Experiencing seizures does not necessarily mean suffering from epilepsy; Up to 10 percent of people experience at least one seizure in their lifetime, while epilepsy is the presence of two or more unprovoked seizures. Although the causes of the disease are diverse or unknown, it is important to understand that in approximately 50 percent of cases, sporadic seizures do not always indicate the presence of epilepsy.
Some reasons are as follows:
brain damage from prenatal and perinatal causes (loss of oxygen during childbirth or trauma, low birth weight);
genetic conditions associated with congenital anomalies or brain malformations;
severe head injuries;
stroke that restricts the amount of oxygen reaching the brain;
brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis or neurocysticercosis;
How is epilepsy treated
Treatment usually involves medication to help control seizures. In more complex cases, surgery or implantable medical devices may be considered as options.
In recent years new techniques have become available, such as the use of robotic surgery in laser ablation therapy, long-term monitoring of seizures for months, or deep brain stimulation. In the coming years, thanks to resonance technology, major advances are expected in the neuroimaging diagnosis of cortical dysplasia and other malformations that cause epilepsy. The implementation of chronic electrodes and the development of ‘closed loop’ monitoring systems, as well as analysis using big data, will allow crises to be identified at their onset.
One of the future objectives of scientific progress is to find the genes that cause complex epileptic conditions, which are often resistant to conventional treatments. Finding these genes will help identify what specific and individualized treatment each epilepsy patient needs.
How to help with epilepsy
Stay calm, remember that most epileptic seizures are short-lived and usually do not represent a long-term threat;
Protect the person from fall injury by helping them to the ground. Place something soft under your head to avoid injury;
Remove hazardous objects: Remove any nearby objects that could cause harm during the seizure;
Do not restrain the person during a seizure because it is practically impossible to stop an epileptic seizure once it has started. You should not try to stop him by shouting, shaking, shaking or smelling strong perfume;
Lay the person on his side to facilitate breathing and stay with him until he regains complete consciousness;
Observe the duration: If the seizures last more than five minutes or if the person has several seizures without regaining consciousness, medical help should be sought immediately.