Epilepsy: Facts and First Aid
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
Here are some quick facts about Epilepsy, courtesy of epilepsy.com.
- 65 MILLION: Number of people around the world who have epilepsy.
- NEARLY 3 MILLION: Number of people in the United States who have epilepsy.
- 1 IN 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.
- BETWEEN 4 AND 10 OUT OF 1,000: Number of people on earth who live with active seizures at any one time.
- 150,000: Number of new cases of epilepsy in the United States each year
- ONE-THIRD: Number of people with epilepsy who live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatment works for them.
- 6 OUT OF 10: Number of people with epilepsy where the cause is unknown.
Epilepsy affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s COMBINED.
So, chances are, you know or will cross paths with someone in your lifetime who has Epilepsy. Learning seizure first aid is so important. Here are some first aid tips if a person is having a seizure:
- Stay calm
- Move dangerous objects out of their reach
- Loosen (if possible) any tight clothing
- If the person has fallen to the ground, gently turn them onto their side and put something soft under their head
- If the person is wandering, gently steer them away from danger
- Do NOT place anything in their mouths. A person CANNOT swallow their tongue
- Do NOT restrain the person
- Time the seizure
- Stay with them until the seizure subsides
- For a first time seizure
- If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or repeats
- If the person is injured, pregnant, or has diabetes
- If the seizure occurs in water
- If the person does not resume consciousness or breathing after the seizure is over
- If the person has no I.D. stating they have Epilepsy (for example, I.D. tags can be worn as a bracelet and/or as a necklace)
After a seizure, there are temporary and very common “after” effects. Some of these may include:
- The person may be very emotional. Crying is very common. You may hear them say things like “I’m so sorry” over and over, almost like a sense of guilt.. The best thing you can do for them is to be as reassuring as possible.
- The person will experience temporary memory loss and may appear confused. In most cases, they will have no immediate memory of what just happened.
- Their bodies will be very sore and physical exhaustion is very common. They will sleep a lot in the 24-48 hours after a seizure.
- Their tongue may have bite or chew marks on one side, sometimes both sides.
- They may have scratches and/or bruises on their body.
As a person with Epilepsy, for 28 years now, I realize just how important it is to teach others about Epilepsy facts and first aid for seizures. It’s a road no one with Epilepsy wants to travel BUT having support from others (such as others knowing seizure first aid) the road an Epileptic travels can seem to have a lot less forks.
For additional information on Epilepsy visit epilepsy.com.
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