Epilepsy Myths vs. Facts: Dispelling Common Misconceptions
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by
recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Despite its prevalence, there are many
misconceptions and myths surrounding epilepsy that contribute to stigma and
misunderstandings. It's crucial to dispel these myths to foster a more
supportive and informed community. Let's explore some common epilepsy myths and
the corresponding facts.
Myth 1: Epilepsy is a
Fact: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent
seizures. While seizures can sometimes affect a person's behavior or cognition
during their occurrence, epilepsy itself is not a mental illness. It involves
abnormal brain activity that leads to seizures.
Myth 2: Epilepsy is
Fact: Epilepsy is more common
than many people realize. More than 50 million people have Epilepsy,
making it one of the most prevalent neurological disorders worldwide. People of
all ages, genders, and backgrounds can develop epilepsy.
Also Read: International Epilepsy Day
Myth 3: All Seizures
Look the Same
Fact: Seizures manifest differently for each individual.
While some experience convulsions, others may exhibit staring spells, subtle
movements, or altered consciousness. Understanding the diverse presentations of
seizures is crucial to recognizing and responding effectively.
Myth 4: Epilepsy is
Fact: While genetics can play a role, epilepsy can result
from various factors, including brain injury, infections, tumors, or
developmental issues. In many cases, the cause remains unknown (idiopathic).
Genetic predisposition accounts for a fraction of epilepsy cases.
Myth 5: People with
Epilepsy Are Mentally Impaired
Fact: Epilepsy doesn't necessarily affect intelligence. Many
individuals with epilepsy lead normal, fulfilling lives, pursuing education,
careers, and relationships. Intellectual abilities vary among people with
epilepsy, just as they do in the general population.
Myth 6: Swallowing Your Tongue During a Seizure
Fact: It's physically impossible to swallow your tongue
during a seizure. The best response is to help the person by turning them onto
their side to maintain an open airway and placing something soft under their
Also Watch: Unmasking Epilepsy Myths: Expert Insights with Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta
Myth 7: Seizures Are
Always Medical Emergencies
Fact: While some seizures require immediate medical
attention, not all are emergencies. Some seizures are brief and self-limiting.
However, if a seizure lasts more than five minutes, is followed by another
seizure, or if the person is injured during the episode, seeking medical help
Myth 8: Epilepsy Can't
Fact: Many people with epilepsy can manage their condition
with medication, lifestyle modifications, or surgical interventions. Not all
individuals with epilepsy require lifelong treatment, and advancements in medical
science continue to provide new therapeutic options.
Myth 9: Epileptic Women
Can't Have Healthy Pregnancies
Fact: With proper medical guidance, many women with epilepsy
have healthy pregnancies. It's essential to manage medication under medical
supervision to balance seizure control with potential risks to the fetus.
Myth 10: You Should
Force Something Into the Mouth of Someone Having a Seizure
Fact: Never attempt to put anything in the mouth of someone
having a seizure. This can cause injury. Instead, ensure a safe environment,
protect the person from harm, and let the seizure run its course.
Dr Sonia Lal Gupta
Senior Neurologist (Stroke and Headache Specialist) & Director, Metro Group of Hospitals