March 26th is Epilepsy Awareness Day: an important day for understanding epilepsy and raising awareness. With more than 87 people diagnosed with epilepsy each day, this condition is more common than people think and can seriously impact the lives of those affected. With the right treatment, however, people with epilepsy can experience fewer symptoms and live well despite the condition. This article will increase your understanding of epilepsy and help you spot the signs and symptoms.
Epilepsy in the UK
Epilepsy is a condition characterised by frequent seizures. It may also result in other symptoms like uncontrolled movement, stiffness and fitting. There are many different types of epilepsy, and the condition varies in severity. Seizures can happen at any time and the person affected often has no memory of the event.
Epilepsy currently affects 600,000 people in the UK. It can seriously impact the lives of those affected, causing disruption to school, work and relationships. Those living with epilepsy often find themselves facing discrimination because of their condition due to widespread lack of knowledge and insight. This is just one of the reasons why understanding epilepsy is so important.
Understanding epilepsy: knowing the signs
The most common symptoms of epilepsy are frequent seizures. These seizures can happen suddenly, whether someone is sleeping or awake. Epilepsy Action has a useful guide on what to do when someone has a seizure. Any type of seizure is a cause for concern and should be checked by a doctor.
If the person has never had a seizure before (or it’s someone you don’t know), you should contact an ambulance immediately. You should never try to move someone who is having a seizure; instead, make them safer by cushioning their head and putting them in the recovery position when the seizure stops. There are different actions required for different types of seizures, so consulting a healthcare professional is a good idea if you live or work with someone with epilepsy.
Living with epilepsy
Once diagnosed, epilepsy can be treated with medication. Seizures can also be minimised if you’re able to spot the triggers. Anti-epileptic drugs can be very effective, while other treatment options include surgery and following a Ketogenic diet.
Living with epilepsy affects different people in different ways. Taking an active part in your treatment is important, while taking your medication as prescribed and avoiding your triggers will help you manage your epilepsy long-term. It’s also important to see your GP regularly to help you stay on top of your treatment and track your symptoms.
If you see someone having a seizure, call 999 immediately. If you know the person has a history of epilepsy, you can monitor their seizure and call for an ambulance if the symptoms don’t stop. It’s important to use ambulances the right way, but you should never take a change on with someone who’s having a seizure, especially if you’re unfamiliar with their history.
There may also be support groups in your area that can increase your understanding of epilepsy. Consult your GP if you’re experiencing symptoms of epilepsy, or contact 111 to be put through to the relevant out of hours team.