Knowing the Facts
Epilepsy is one of the oldest known medical conditions. The first book on epilepsy was written by the Greek physician Hippocrates (of the famous Hippocratic Oath). His book was called “On the Sacred Disease,” written around 400 BC. People believed people having seizures were potentially able to see the future. Some also believed epilepsy came from evil spirits. Hippocrates’ book tried to dissuade people from those beliefs. Hippocrates knew epilepsy was a condition of the brain.
Even today, some people still believe epilepsy is the work of evil spirits. Many other myths also still persist. It is up to all of us to know the facts about epilepsy … and to talk about them as much as we can, so the truth can finally get out there for everyone.
FACT: If someone is having a seizure, NEVER put anything in their mouth!
No one can swallow their tongue, that is a very persistent myth we have to end. Trying to put something in someone’s mouth while they have a seizure could significantly hurt the person. It could damage their jaw or teeth. And it is simply NEVER the thing to do.
FACT: If someone is having a seizure, NEVER hold them down or restrain them in any way!
When someone has a convulsive seizure, their legs and arms will move in a jerking fashion. This is the muscle response to the excessive electrical discharge happening in their brain. As long as the person is not in any danger, like near an object that can hurt them, it is important to let the seizure take its course — usually just a minute or two. Restraining the person may hurt them. Just make sure they are safe, and stay with them until the seizure ends.
FACT: Epilepsy is NOT Contagious.
There is no way anyone can ‘catch’ epilepsy. Not possible. Ever.
FACT: Epilepsy should NOT be a barrier to happiness and success.
While epilepsy varies in treatment and severity on an individual basis, one should always do their best to keep a positive outlook and strive to live the best life you can. We each face our own challenges every day. And it is up to our personal strength and our community of support in family and friends to help us through whatever we face.
Show Your Support
One of the most difficult aspects of life facing people living with epilepsy is the way other people react to the condition.
If we work together to talk about what epilepsy is, by focusing on the facts and helping end the myths, we can help make sure everyone reacts with what we all deserve: understanding, support and compassion.
We need to keep talking and pay it forward!