Epilepsy is a fairly common disease. Many famous people suffered from this disease: Socrates, Lord Byron, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vincent van Gogh, Alfred Nobel, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison…
Epilepsy is a disease that is accompanied by seizures.
Attacks are the result of excessive activity of nerve cells in the brain.
Seizures can be manifested by motor, behavioral disorders, with or without loss of consciousness. They can occur at different time intervals. Attacks can last from a few seconds to several minutes, and after an attack, the brain returns to normal activity.
What causes epilepsy?
Among the most common reasons it is worth noting the following:
– injuries and bruises of the head, which can lead to brain damage;
– infectious inflammatory diseases of the brain (meningitis, encephalitis);
– Volumetric formations of the brain;
– previous acute cerebrovascular accidents (strokes);
– birth trauma or intrauterine pathology;
– poisoning with toxic substances;
– long-term use of alcoholic beverages, regardless of their strength;
The development of an attack can be provoked by high fever, especially in infancy and early childhood (febrile convulsions), and, as a rule, disappear as the child grows older.
How to treat epilepsy?
People with epilepsy are given medication to prevent seizures. There are several different groups of drugs for the treatment of epilepsy. The attending physician (neurologist, epileptologist), depending on the type of seizures, will select the therapy that will best combine high efficiency and safety. If the seizures persist, the doctor may prescribe another antiepileptic drug. The choice of therapy takes some time. At the beginning of treatment, while taking the drugs, the patient may lose appetite, become drowsy, irritable, rash or other undesirable effects may appear. If this happens, you should inform your doctor about it. He will be able to adjust the treatment regimen or replace the drug. You do not need to interrupt treatment or change drugs on your own. This can lead to the development of an attack.
How to help the medicine work?
– take the medicine constantly every day at a strictly defined time;
– take the dose of the drug in strict accordance with the doctor’s prescriptions;
– if the drug is in liquid form (solution), it is necessary to mix the contents of the vial well before taking the medicine to ensure a sufficient concentration of the drug;
– it is necessary to store drugs in a dry and cool place out of the reach of children;
– always have a supply of anticonvulsants;
– keep a calendar of seizures and carry it with you;
How to deal with seizures?
If falls, cramps, or sudden muscle tension occur during an attack, make sure that all family members know what to do in the event of such an attack.
Advice for relatives:
– keep calm;
– note the time of the onset of the attack to determine its duration;
– lay your head on a flat soft surface so that during an attack there is no head injury;
– turn a person who has an attack on his side to prevent suffocation;
– Loosen your tie or other clothing that may make breathing difficult;
– do not put anything in his mouth – he will not swallow his tongue;
– do not try to restrain him or stop his convulsions;
– remove all objects near the patient to prevent injury during an attack;
For most people, there is no need for hospitalization if an attack develops. Most seizures end on their own after a few minutes.
When should an ambulance be called?
– if the attack happened for the first time in life;
– if the attack looks different than usual;
– if the attack lasts more than 5 minutes;
– if the next attack develops immediately after the previous one;
– if breathing is difficult during an attack or a person cannot regain consciousness after the attack stops;
– if there are any signs of physical damage after the attack;
– if the attack occurred while the person was in the water.
How does lifestyle change with epilepsy?
If you have recently been diagnosed with epilepsy, you need to think about your lifestyle, and except for some restrictions, you will continue to live like people without epilepsy.
– avoid mental and physical overload;
– Follow the diet and water balance. Avoid spicy foods, coffee;
– give up bad habits. The use of alcohol is strictly prohibited!
– avoid the use of bright flickering light sources, prolonged TV viewing, prolonged work at the computer screen, computer games, avoid being close to the TV screen or monitor. When watching TV or working at a computer, an additional light source is needed in the room;
– Stop driving! (this is prohibited by law);
– At home, try not to lock interior doors with locks;
– take a shower, not a bath. Taking a bath without supervision is contraindicated;
– cook food only in the presence of relatives, use the knife very carefully. If you are alone at home, use ready-to-cook or already cut food, use a microwave or oven with an off-timer. Do not carry containers with hot food or water. Use shatterproof utensils;
– use additional security measures at home: non-slip rubber surfaces, soft floor coverings, sharp corner protection, heaters, and radiators should be in a stable position and a place remote from you;
– follow the daily routine. Get a good night’s sleep for at least 8 hours a day. Sleep deprivation and early forced awakening should be avoided. Deprivation (violation) of sleep can provoke seizures;
– sports, travel are not prohibited, but there are certain restrictions. It is forbidden to swim without a life jacket and alone. It is forbidden to engage in surfing, rock climbing, skiing, martial arts. Equestrian sports, cycling, skiing are possible only with protective equipment and in the presence of an instructor. Always travel with an escort, take with you a set of necessary medicines, a diary of seizures with your data, diagnosis, contacts of relatives, or the attending physician. Avoid overheating, prolonged exposure to the open sun;
People with epilepsy may work in completely different fields, such as lawyers or doctors, others work in offices, shops, or restaurants.
Some of these people have complete seizure control, while others rarely or often have seizures. It is important to find a job that does not lead to recurrence and/or more seizures.
When applying for a job, you are not required to tell your employer that you have epilepsy, except for jobs that involve certain working conditions. The employer also does not have the right to ask you about it, however, if you still decide to tell him that you have epilepsy, then you must convince him that this does not affect how you cope with your duties. Choose a job that is not related to hazardous production.
The following activities are contraindicated: work related to driving vehicles, work with moving unprotected mechanisms, work at height, work near open water, near an open fire, service in the police, fire departments, ambulance, work with valuable fragile objects, work with chemicals.
It is not recommended to work in shifts, work for days, which does not provide a good sleep.
At work or school, be sure to inform colleagues about the possibility of developing a seizure (tell them about how they can help and whom to call). Keep spare clothes at work so you can change.
Most people with epilepsy can have sex and have children. Occasionally, men or women with epilepsy may have decreased sex drive, these problems may be due to the use of anticonvulsant drugs. Sometimes people believe that sexual arousal can trigger an attack, but there is no evidence for this fact. If you are a woman and want to have children or start taking birth control, you should discuss this with your doctor. Some birth control drugs do not interact with antiepileptic drugs but may reduce the chance of pregnancy in the future. If you decide to become pregnant, you should also discuss your therapy and possible risks with your doctor. Even though a woman with epilepsy has a greater risk of having a child with various disorders, 90% of children are born healthy.
Stay active and busy. If you can work, work. The busier you are, the less time you will have to think about negative thoughts about the disease, and the better you will feel.
Epilepsy does not control you and your life. Remember that if you have epilepsy, then it is you who can control the disease and not vice versa. The diagnosis of epilepsy does not mean that a person must necessarily undergo any personality changes, it is simply a disease with which he lives. Having a diagnosis of epilepsy is not a label. Subject to the above rules, you will be able to live a full life filled with positive emotions!