PURPLE DAY 2023 – Epilepsy Awareness Day : “10 shocking truths about epilepsy and how it affects millions of people worldwide”
Hello, I am Dr B JAGADISH , a Diabetes Wellbeing Coach and Diabetes Reversal Expert. Today, I want to talk to you about a very important topic that affects millions of people worldwide: epilepsy.
This 2023 year’s International Epilepsy Day’s theme, “Stigma”, calls to be perceptive of the prejudice and discrimination faced by epilepsy patients.
The goal of Purple Day is to increase general public awareness, to reduce the social stigma endured by many individuals with the condition, and to empower individuals living with epilepsy to take action in their communities.
The motto is ‘Anyone with a brain can have a seizure and anyone with a brain can help those with epilepsy. ‘ So, that means YOU can help today!
In 2008, eight-year-old Cassidy Megan from Canada decided she wanted to help raise awareness for people with epilepsy and to help them realise that they’re not alone. Cassidy picked purple to represent this day because lavender is internationally recognised as the flower for epilepsy.
On March 26th annually, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement or loss of consciousness.
Epilepsy can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It can have a significant impact on the quality of life of people with epilepsy and their families.
But how much do you really know about epilepsy? Do you know what causes it, how it is diagnosed and treated, and what challenges people with epilepsy face in their daily lives? Do you know how to help someone who is having a seizure, or how to support someone who has epilepsy?
If you are curious to learn more about this condition, or if you have epilepsy yourself or know someone who does, then this article is for you. In this article, I will share with you 10 shocking truths about epilepsy and how it affects millions of people worldwide. I hope that by reading this article, you will gain a better understanding of epilepsy and its implications, and that you will feel more empowered and compassionate towards people with epilepsy.
So let’s get started!
1. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases globally
Did you know that epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases globally?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. That’s more than the population of Spain or Canada!
Epilepsy is also the fourth most common neurological disease after migraines, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. It affects people of all ages, from infants to elderly. In fact, 1 in 26 U.S. people will be diagnosed with epilepsy over their lifetime.
That means that chances are, you or someone you know has epilepsy or will develop it at some point in your life.
Epilepsy is not a rare or isolated condition; it is a widespread and prevalent disease that affects millions of people around the world.
2. Epilepsy has many different causes and types
What causes epilepsy?
The answer is not simple. Epilepsy can have many different causes, depending on the individual case. Some of the most common causes include:
Some forms of epilepsy are inherited or run in families. For example, some people have mutations in genes that affect how brain cells communicate with each other.
Trauma to the head or brain can damage brain cells or disrupt brain circuits, leading to epilepsy.
For example, some people develop epilepsy after a stroke, a brain tumor, an infection, a lack of oxygen at birth, or a severe blow to the head.
In many cases, the cause of epilepsy remains unknown or unclear. This is called idiopathic or cryptogenic epilepsy. It may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors that are not yet identified.
Epilepsy can also have many different types, depending on where in the brain the seizures originate and how they affect the person’s awareness and behavior. Some of the main types of seizures include:
These seizures start in one part of the brain and affect only one side of the body or one function. They can cause symptoms such as twitching, tingling, numbness, visual changes, emotional changes, or memory lapses.
These seizures involve both sides of the brain and affect the whole body. They can cause symptoms such as loss of consciousness, stiffening, jerking, falling, or losing control of bladder or bowel function.
Unknown onset seizures:
These seizures have an unknown origin and may be focal or generalized. They can cause symptoms such as sudden flexion or extension of the limbs.
The type and frequency of seizures can vary from person to person and even from day to day. Some people have only one type of seizure; others have more than one type. Some people have seizures very rarely; others have them very often.
3. Epilepsy can be diagnosed and treated
How do you know if you have epilepsy?
The diagnosis of epilepsy is based on several factors:
The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, your family history, your medical conditions, your medications, and any possible triggers for your seizures.
The doctor will check your vital signs, your reflexes, your coordination, your vision, your hearing, and your mental status.
This is a test that measures the electrical activity of your brain. It can show if there are any abnormal patterns or spikes that indicate epilepsy.
These are tests that take pictures of your brain, such as MRI, CT scan, PET scan, or SPECT scan. They can show if there are any structural problems or lesions in your brain that may cause epilepsy.
These are tests that assess your cognitive functions, such as memory, language, attention, and problem-solving. They can help determine how epilepsy affects your brain and behavior.
The diagnosis of epilepsy is not always straightforward. Sometimes, it may take several tests and visits to confirm or rule out epilepsy. Sometimes, it may be difficult to distinguish epilepsy from other conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as fainting, migraines, sleep disorders, or psychological problems.
But don’t lose hope. With the advances in technology and research, the diagnosis of epilepsy is becoming more accurate and reliable. The sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can start treatment and improve your quality of life.
4. Epilepsy can be treated with various options.
How do you treat epilepsy?
The answer is not simple either. Epilepsy can be treated with various options, depending on the type and cause of epilepsy, the frequency and severity of seizures, the age and overall health of the person, and the personal preferences and goals of the person.
Some of the most common treatment options include:
These are drugs that help reduce or prevent seizures by affecting the brain chemicals or electrical signals that cause them. There are many different types of anti-seizure medications available, each with its own benefits and side effects. The choice of medication depends on several factors, such as the type of epilepsy, the response to previous medications, the potential interactions with other drugs or conditions, and the cost and availability of the drugs. Sometimes, it may take some trial and error to find the best medication or combination of medications for each person.
This is an option for people who have focal epilepsy that does not respond well to medications. Surgery involves removing or disconnecting the part of the brain that causes seizures.
Surgery can be very effective in reducing or eliminating seizures, but it also carries some risks and complications, such as infection, bleeding, stroke, or cognitive impairment.
Surgery is not suitable for everyone; it requires careful evaluation and preparation by a team of specialists.
These are devices that help control seizures by stimulating certain nerves or brain regions with electrical impulses. Some examples of devices are vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), responsive neurostimulation (RNS), or deep brain stimulation (DBS).
Devices can be implanted under the skin or on the skull and connected to wires that deliver stimulation to the target area.
Devices can be used alone or in combination with medications. Devices can have some side effects and complications, such as infection, malfunction, battery replacement, or adjustment issues.
This is an option for some people who have epilepsy that does not respond well to medications or other treatments. Diet involves following a special diet that changes the way the body uses energy and affects the brain activity.
One example of diet is ketogenic diet, which is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to use fat instead of glucose for energy.
Diet can be effective in reducing seizures in some people, especially children with certain types of epilepsy.
Diet requires close supervision by a doctor and a dietitian and regular monitoring of blood tests and weight.
This is an option for everyone who has epilepsy. Lifestyle involves making some changes in your daily habits and routines that can help you manage your epilepsy better and reduce your risk of seizures.
Some examples of lifestyle changes are:
– Taking your medications as prescribed and on time.
– Getting enough sleep and rest.
– Avoiding triggers that may provoke seizures, such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, flashing lights, or certain medications.
– Eating a balanced and healthy diet.
– Exercising regularly and moderately.
– Staying hydrated and avoiding dehydration.
– Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that identifies you as having epilepsy
Informing your family, friends, co-workers, teachers, or employers about your condition and how to help you in case of a seizure.
– Seeking support from others who understand your situation, such as support groups, counselors, therapists, or online communities.
– The treatment of epilepsy is not one-size-fits-all. It requires a personalized approach that takes into account your individual needs and preferences.
It also requires regular follow-up and monitoring by your doctor and your epilepsy team.
The goal of treatment is to help you achieve the best possible seizure control and quality of life.
5. Epilepsy can pose many challenges and stigma.
Living with epilepsy can be challenging, not only because of the seizures themselves, but also because of the social and emotional consequences of having a chronic condition that is often misunderstood and stigmatized.
People with epilepsy may face many difficulties in their daily lives, such as:
Children with epilepsy may have learning difficulties or behavioral problems that affect their academic performance and social skills.
They may also face discrimination or bullying from their peers or teachers.
They may need special accommodations or support to succeed in school.
Adults with epilepsy may have trouble finding or keeping a job that suits their abilities and interests. They may face discrimination or harassment from their employers or co-workers.
They may also have to deal with legal restrictions or safety issues that limit their career options.
People with epilepsy may not be allowed to drive or may have to meet certain criteria to obtain or renew their driver’s license.
Driving can be a source of independence and mobility, but also a potential risk for people with epilepsy and others on the road.
People with epilepsy may have difficulties forming or maintaining relationships with their family, friends, partners, or spouses.
They may feel isolated, lonely, or ashamed of their condition.
They may also have concerns about their sexual health or fertility.
People with epilepsy may experience psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or suicidal thoughts.
They may also have cognitive impairments such as memory loss, confusion, or difficulty concentrating.
They may need counseling or therapy to cope with their emotions and challenges.
People with epilepsy may also face stigma and discrimination from society at large.
Stigma is a negative attitude or belief that leads to rejection or exclusion of a person or group based on a certain characteristic.
Discrimination is an unfair action or treatment that results from stigma.
Stigma and discrimination can affect people with epilepsy in many ways, such as:
Lack of awareness:
Many people do not know what epilepsy is, what causes it, how it is treated, or how to help someone who is having a seizure.
They may have false or outdated information about epilepsy that leads to fear, ignorance, or prejudice.
Many people have negative images or associations of epilepsy that are influenced by media, culture, religion, or history.
They may think that people with epilepsy are crazy, possessed, violent, contagious, cursed, or inferior.
Many people avoid or reject people with epilepsy because of their stigma or discrimination. They may exclude them from social activities, education, employment, health care, or other opportunities. They may also isolate them from their family or community.
Many people with epilepsy internalize the stigma and discrimination they face from others.
They may feel ashamed, guilty, worthless, or hopeless about their condition.
They may also blame themselves for their seizures or hide their epilepsy from others.
Stigma and discrimination can have a profound impact on the lives of people with epilepsy and their families.
They can affect their physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.
They can also prevent people with epilepsy from accessing the health care, education, employment, and social opportunities they deserve.
6. Epilepsy can be prevented and cured in some cases.
Is epilepsy preventable or curable?
The answer is yes, in some cases.
Epilepsy can be prevented or cured in some cases, depending on the cause and type of epilepsy.
# Some of the ways to prevent or cure epilepsy are:
Preventing brain injury:
Many cases of epilepsy are caused by brain injury or damage that occurs before, during, or after birth, or later in life due to trauma, infection, stroke, tumor, or other conditions.
Preventing these causes of brain injury can reduce the risk of developing epilepsy.
Some of the preventive measures include:
– Providing adequate prenatal care for pregnant women and their babies.
– Ensuring safe delivery and neonatal care for newborns.
– Immunizing children and adults against infectious diseases that can affect the brain.
– Wearing helmets and seat belts to protect the head from injury
– Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels to prevent stroke.
– Seeking prompt medical attention for any signs of brain infection or tumor.
– Treating the underlying cause:
Some cases of epilepsy are caused by an underlying condition that can be treated or cured.
For example, some people have epilepsy due to a brain tumor that can be removed by surgery, or due to a metabolic disorder that can be corrected by medication or diet.
Treating the underlying cause of epilepsy can sometimes stop the seizures or make them less frequent or severe.
Achieving seizure freedom:
Some cases of epilepsy can be cured by achieving seizure freedom for a long period of time.
Seizure freedom means having no seizures for a certain duration, usually at least two years.
Seizure freedom can be achieved by using anti-seizure medications, surgery, devices, diet, or lifestyle changes.
Some people who achieve seizure freedom may be able to stop their treatment and remain seizure-free for life.
However, this is not possible for everyone; some people may need to continue their treatment indefinitely to prevent seizures from recurring.
Epilepsy prevention and cure are not easy tasks. They require a lot of research, resources, collaboration, and commitment from various stakeholders.
They also depend on the individual circumstances and characteristics of each person with epilepsy. However, they are not impossible goals.
With the advances in science and technology, as well as the efforts of advocacy and awareness groups, more people with epilepsy may have a chance to live without seizures in the future.
7. Epilepsy can be a source of inspiration and creativity.
How do you view epilepsy?
Do you see it as a curse or a blessing?
Do you see it as a weakness or a strength?
Do you see it as a barrier or an opportunity?
The way you view epilepsy can have a big impact on how you cope with it and how you live your life. If you view epilepsy negatively, you may feel hopeless, angry, or depressed. You may also miss out on many opportunities and experiences that life has to offer.
But if you view epilepsy positively, you may feel hopeful, confident, or inspired. You may also discover many opportunities and experiences that life has to offer.
Epilepsy can be a source of inspiration and creativity for some people.
Some people with epilepsy have used their condition as a motivation to pursue their passions and talents. Some people with epilepsy have also used their condition as a inspiration to create art, music, literature, or science.
Some examples of famous people with epilepsy who have achieved remarkable feats of creativity are:
Vincent van Gogh:
He was a Dutch painter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative artists of all time. He suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, which may have influenced his use of colors, shapes, and emotions in his paintings. Some of his most famous works include The Starry Night, Sunflowers, and The Potato Eaters.
He was a German composer who is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. He suffered from idiopathic epilepsy, which may have contributed to his musical creativity and originality. Some of his most famous works include Symphony No. 5, Moonlight Sonata, and Ode to Joy.
He was an English writer who is best known for his children’s books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He suffered from complex partial seizures, which may have inspired his use of fantasy, logic, and wordplay in his stories. Some of his most famous characters include Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts.
He was a Russian novelist who is regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time. He suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, which may have influenced his exploration of human psychology, morality, and spirituality in his novels. Some of his most famous works include Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot.
These are just a few examples of how epilepsy can be a source of inspiration and creativity for some people.
Of course, not everyone with epilepsy is a creative genius or a famous artist. But everyone with epilepsy has the potential to be creative and successful in their own way.
Creativity is not a fixed trait that you either have or don’t have.
Creativity is a skill that you can develop and improve with practice and perseverance.
Creativity is also a mindset that you can adopt and cultivate with curiosity and courage.
So don’t let epilepsy stop you from being creative.
Instead, let epilepsy inspire you to be creative.
Use your imagination to see new possibilities and solutions.
Use your expression to share your ideas and feelings.
Use your passion to pursue your goals and dreams.
You may be surprised by what you can create and achieve with epilepsy.
8. Epilepsy can be supported by various resources and communities.
How do you cope with epilepsy?
Do you feel alone or supported?
Do you have access to the resources and communities that can help you manage your condition better?
Coping with epilepsy can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.
There are various resources and communities that can support you along your journey with epilepsy.
# Some of the resources and communities that can support you are:
These are the professionals who can diagnose, treat, and monitor your epilepsy.
They include your primary care doctor, your neurologist, your epileptologist, your nurse, your pharmacist, your psychologist, your psychiatrist, your social worker, your dietitian, and your physical therapist.
They can provide you with medical advice, prescriptions, tests, referrals, counseling, therapy, and support.
They can also help you access other resources and communities that can support you.
These are the groups that advocate for the rights and needs of people with epilepsy. They include the Epilepsy Foundation, the Epilepsy Alliance of America, and many other local, national, and international organizations.
They can provide you with information, education, awareness, research, funding, legal assistance, and policy change.
They can also help you connect with other resources and communities that can support you.
Epilepsy support groups:
These are the groups that offer emotional and social support for people with epilepsy and their families. They include online forums, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and social media platforms. They also include in-person meetings, events, workshops, camps, and retreats.
They can provide you with a safe and supportive space to share your experiences, feelings, challenges, and successes with others who understand what you are going through.
They can also help you learn from others’ experiences, tips, strategies, and resources.
Epilepsy friends and family:
These are the people who care about you and want to help you cope with epilepsy.
They include your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your friends, your partners, your spouses, your children, and your pets.
They can provide you with love, comfort, encouragement, and companionship.
They can also help you with practical tasks, such as driving, cooking, cleaning, or babysitting.
They can also help you with emotional tasks, such as listening, understanding, empathizing, or cheering.
These are just some of the resources and communities that can support you with epilepsy.
There are many more out there that you can discover and explore. The important thing is to reach out and ask for help when you need it. You are not alone in this journey.
You have many people and groups who are willing and able to support you.
9. Epilepsy can be celebrated and embraced.
How do you celebrate epilepsy?
Do you see it as a burden or a gift?
Do you see it as a problem or a solution?
Do you see it as a curse or a blessing?
The way you celebrate epilepsy can have a big impact on how you cope with it and how you live your life.
If you celebrate epilepsy negatively, you may feel resentful, bitter, or unhappy. You may also miss out on many joys and pleasures that life has to offer.
But if you celebrate epilepsy positively, you may feel grateful, proud, or happy. You may also discover many joys and pleasures that life has to offer.
Epilepsy can be celebrated and embraced for some people.
Some people with epilepsy have used their condition as a source of pride and identity.
Some people with epilepsy have also used their condition as a source of purpose and meaning.
Some examples of how to celebrate and embrace epilepsy are:
Purple is the color of epilepsy awareness.
Wearing purple is a way to show your support and solidarity for people with epilepsy. It is also a way to express your pride and identity as a person with epilepsy.
You can wear purple clothes, accessories, or ribbons on Purple Day (March 26) or any other day of the year.
Sharing your story:
Sharing your story is a way to raise awareness and understanding of epilepsy.
It is also a way to inspire and empower others who are living with epilepsy or who are curious about it.
You can share your story online, in person, or in writing.
You can share your story with your family, friends, co-workers, teachers, or strangers. You can share your story with humor, sarcasm, or emotion.
Joining a cause:
Joining a cause is a way to make a difference and contribute to the epilepsy community. It is also a way to find a purpose and meaning in your life.
You can join a cause by participating in events, campaigns, fundraisers, or advocacy efforts.
You can join a cause by donating money, time, skills, or resources.
You can join a cause by supporting an organization, a group, or an individual.
Enjoying life is a way to celebrate and embrace epilepsy. It is also a way to cope and thrive with epilepsy.
You can enjoy life by doing the things you love and love the things you do.
You can enjoy life by exploring new hobbies, interests, or passions.
You can enjoy life by traveling to new places, meeting new people, or learning new things.
These are just some of the ways to celebrate and embrace epilepsy.
There are many more out there that you can discover and explore.
The important thing is to find what works for you and what makes you happy. You don’t have to let epilepsy define you or limit you.
You can let epilepsy celebrate you and embrace you.
10. Epilepsy can be learned and taught.
How do you learn about epilepsy?
Do you see it as a mystery or a puzzle?
Do you see it as a challenge or an opportunity?
Do you see it as a burden or a gift?
The way you learn about epilepsy can have a big impact on how you cope with it and how you live your life.
If you learn about epilepsy negatively, you may feel confused, frustrated, or scared. You may also miss out on many opportunities and experiences that life has to offer.
But if you learn about epilepsy positively, you may feel curious, interested, or excited.
You may also discover many opportunities and experiences that life has to offer.
Epilepsy can be learned and taught for some people.
Some people with epilepsy have used their condition as a source of curiosity and interest. Some people with epilepsy have also used their condition as a source of education and teaching.
Some examples of how to learn and teach about epilepsy are:
Asking questions is a way to learn more about epilepsy.
It is also a way to spark curiosity and invite reflection.
You can ask questions to yourself, to others, or to experts.
You can ask questions about the causes, types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or cure of epilepsy.
You can ask questions about the challenges, stigma, inspiration, creativity, support, celebration, or embrace of epilepsy.
Reading books is a way to learn more about epilepsy. It is also a way to expand your knowledge and perspective.
You can read books that are factual, informative, or educational. You can read books that are fictional, creative, or entertaining.
You can read books that are written by people with epilepsy, by people who know someone with epilepsy, or by people who are interested in epilepsy.
Watching videos is a way to learn more about epilepsy. It is also a way to engage your senses and emotions.
You can watch videos that are documentary, instructional, or informative.
You can watch videos that are artistic, musical, or humorous.
You can watch videos that are made by people with Epilepsy, by people who know someone with epilepsy, or by people who are interested in epilepsy.
Teaching others is a way to teach more about epilepsy. It is also a way to share your knowledge and experience.
You can teach others by giving presentations, lectures, or workshops.
You can teach others by writing articles, blogs, or books. You can teach others by making videos, podcasts, or songs.
You can teach others by talking to your family, friends, co-workers, teachers, or strangers.
These are just some of the ways to learn and teach about epilepsy. There are many more out there that you can discover and explore. The important thing is to be open and willing to learn and teach about epilepsy.
You don’t have to be afraid or ashamed of epilepsy. You can be curious and proud of epilepsy.
You may be surprised by what you can learn and teach about epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a complex and diverse condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can have many different causes, types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and cure. It can also have many different challenges, stigma, inspiration, creativity, support, celebration, and education.
Epilepsy is not a simple or static condition. It is a dynamic and multifaceted condition that can change over time and vary from person to person.
Epilepsy is not a negative or positive condition. It is a neutral condition that can have negative or positive aspects depending on how you view it and cope with it.
Epilepsy is not a defining or limiting condition. It is a part of your life that can define or limit you only if you let it.
Epilepsy is not a curse or a blessing. It is a gift that you can use to enrich your life and the lives of others.
Epilepsy is not a problem or a solution. It is an opportunity that you can use to grow and learn.
Epilepsy is not a mystery or a puzzle. It is a challenge that you can use to improve and succeed.
Epilepsy is not a burden or a gift. It is a journey that you can use to explore and enjoy.
Epilepsy is what you make of it.
So make the most of it.
Happy Purple Day 2023!
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