International Epilepsy Day 2024: The second Monday of February is observed as International Epilepsy Day. This year it is being observed on February 12. It is a significant event that aims at raising awareness and understanding about epilepsy which is a neurological disorder.
The alarming truth about epilepsy and seizures often escapes notice due to a lack of awareness. While many possess a basic understanding of epilepsy, there exists a considerable gap in knowledge regarding its effects on individuals’ lives. On this International Epilepsy Day, it’s vital to acknowledge that epilepsy goes beyond occasional seizures and can significantly impact one’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
What is Epilepsy?
According to the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy is characterized as a non-communicable neurological disorder impacting approximately 50 million individuals globally. Those affected experience recurrent seizures, often manifesting as brief episodes of involuntary movement. In severe cases, individuals may lose consciousness and control of bowel and bladder functions.
Causes and symptoms
Epilepsy is classified as a non-communicable disease with various factors contributing to its onset. These factors encompass structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune, and unknown origins. Common causes include prenatal or perinatal brain damage, congenital abnormalities, severe head injuries, strokes, certain genetic syndromes, and brain tumors.
Symptoms of epilepsy can vary depending on the region in the brain where the disturbance originates and how extensively it spreads. Temporary symptoms may include loss of awareness or consciousness, as well as disruptions in movement, sensation (including vision, hearing, and taste), mood, or other cognitive functions.
Some common signs and symptoms are listed here:
– Seizures: Seizures, the defining symptom of epilepsy, can exhibit a range of types and severity levels. These seizures might entail convulsions, loss of consciousness, episodes of staring, or peculiar movements.
– Temporary Confusion: Following a seizure, individuals may encounter confusion or disorientation, commonly known as a postictal state.
– Uncontrollable Movements: Some seizures entail involuntary body movements, such as jerking motions or stiffness in limbs.
– Loss of Awareness: Certain seizures induce a brief loss of awareness or consciousness, during which the individual may appear unresponsive or disconnected from their surroundings.
– Aura: Preceding a seizure, some individuals experience a warning sign or sensation called an aura. Auras can manifest in various forms, such as visual disturbances, unusual smells, or déjà vu sensations.
– Psychological Symptoms: Epilepsy can impact mood and behavior, leading to anxiety, depression, or mood fluctuations, often related to seizure activity.
– Repetitive Movements: Certain seizure types, like focal seizures, may involve repetitive actions such as lip-smacking, hand rubbing, or chewing motions.
– Loss of Muscle Control: In specific seizures, individuals may momentarily lose muscle control, potentially resulting in falls or other accidents.
– Sensory Symptoms: Seizures can disrupt sensory perception, causing sensations like tingling, numbness, or unusual tastes or smells.
– Automatisms: Some seizures trigger automatic behaviors, where individuals engage in repetitive actions without awareness of their actions.
According to the World Health Organization, up to 25% of epilepsy cases are potentially preventable through specific measures. These measures include preventing head injuries, ensuring proper perinatal care, and avoiding the use of drugs or other substances that may induce hallucinations.