Written By: Ashleigh Kerkman
According to the Epilepsy Foundation 3.4 million people in the US currently live with active epilepsy. The month of November is dedicated to Epilepsy awareness. Although November has come and gone, it is important that it does not only raise awareness during one particular time of the year, but it is constantly talked about in the community. It is important not to forget that Epilepsy awareness is important all year long.
Epilepsy is the same thing as a seizure disorder and is a condition with a wide variety of seizure types depending on the person.It can cause other health issues and is characterized most of the time by unpredictable seizures.
In order to be diagnosed with epilepsy the following must occur:
- At least two unprovoked (or reflex) seizures occurring greater than 24 hours apart.
- One unprovoked (or reflex) seizure and a probability of further seizures similar to the general recurrence risk (at least 60%) after two unprovoked seizures, occurring over the next 10 years.
- Diagnosis of an epilepsy syndrome
- Epilepsy is considered to be resolved for individuals who had an age-dependent epilepsy syndrome but are now past the applicable age or those who have remained seizure-free for the last 10 years, with no seizure medicines for the last 5 years.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disease and 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point during their life. Epilepsy is a disease that can affect any and everyone and that is a reason why it is important to create awareness. Epilepsy is a disguised disease and a lot of the time one would not be able to tell a person is living with it.
Abbey Stewart was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was six years old went through a lot of changes after being diagnosed. Stewart learned, “That it isn’t under my control and even though I pay attention to triggers, I still cannot control if and when seizures come.” Stewart has been seizure free for five years now, with the help of taking medication daily. One would never know she had epilepsy just by looking at her, epilepsy is a hidden disease.
Epilepsy not only affects the person diagnosed with the disease, but other people surrounding them like family and friends. Ryan Foley, a family member to someone who has epilepsy discusses seizures and epilepsy as a scary and stressful time. Foley said, “it is tough to see someone you love struggle with anything. You can die from having a seizure, the thought of that alone is scary.”
Creating awareness is one of the most important things when discussing epilepsy. When asked, what are some ways that Epilepsy awareness can be created, Megan Brereton
Disability Coordinator at Aurora University said, “I think the best way is to talk about it and normalize the disability. I think it is great you are doing an article on the topic. It would be great if there was a question/ answer forum type event where students can get more information. The art department is doing a project showcasing students with disabilities in photos/ text. All of these things are great ways to spread awareness.” Creating and normalizing epilepsy is important in society.
In creating awareness for epilepsy, there is one thing that needs to be known and that is what to do when someone is having a seizure. It is important to follow this protocol, because it potentially saving someone’s life and they need attention. First do no panic and follow the the protocol below.
- Call 911
- Ease the person to the floor
- Make sure the person can breathe (loosen anything around the neck, etc)
- Clear the area around the person
- Time the seizure
If someone is having a seizure the most important thing to help is to follow the protocol. Epilepsy is a disease that many struggle with and many have no idea what it is. It is not a visible disease, and that is why it is important to create awareness within the community.
For more information on Epilepsy and how you can help create awareness, please visit www.epilepsy.com.