International Epilepsy Day 2022: History, Significance, Do's and Don'ts of managing Seizures

International Epilepsy Day 2022: It is observed on the second Monday in February. This year it falls on 14 February and coincides with Valentines' Day. Let us read about history, significance of the day, what is epilepsy, its causes, diagnosis, treatment, Do's and Dont's of managing seizures, etc.
International Epilepsy Day
International Epilepsy Day

International Epilepsy Day 2022: Every year the second Monday of February is observed as International Epilepsy Day, and this year it is celebrated on 14 February which coincides with Valentine's Day. The day spreads awareness and educates people about the true facts of epilepsy and the urgent need for improved treatment, better care, and greater investment in research. 

International Epilepsy Day 2022: History

The day was organised by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). It started in 2015. The purpose behind observing the day is to provide a platform for people with epilepsy to share their experiences and stories with audiences across the world. It is also a call for all people to advocate for appropriate legislation that will guarantee human rights to people with epilepsy. The day also encourages people with epilepsy to live to their fullest potential. 

It is one of the world's oldest known medical conditions, associated with public fear and misunderstanding about epilepsy, making various people reluctant to talk about it. This reluctance may lead to lives lived in shadows, a lack of understanding about individual risk, discrimination in workplaces, and communities, and also a lack of funding for new therapies research.

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About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is derived from the Greek word which means 'to be seized, to be overwhelmed by surprise'. Suffering from epilepsy means having a tendency to have recurring seizures. It is said that if the brain is exposed to a strong enough stimulus then anyone can have a seizure. It is not necessarily a lifelong diagnosis. Also, doctors may consider that a person has no longer epilepsy if he or she goes without seizures for a long enough time.

What is a seizure?

In our brain, electrical activity happens all the time. A seizure occurs when there is an instant burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. This is also known as epileptic activity. It causes a temporary disruption to the way the brain normally works. Therefore, the message in the brain becomes mixed. 
As we know that all the functions of the body are done because of the brain. During a seizure, what happens to a person will depend upon where in the brain the epileptic activity begins, and how widely and quickly it spreads. Due to this, there are various types of seizures, and each person experiences epilepsy in a way that is unique to them.

How is epilepsy caused?

There are various types of epilepsy. Some types of it start at a young age and some in later life. Some type lasts for a short period of time and some for the whole life. 

Sometimes the reason for developing epilepsy is clear. It could be due to brain damage occurring by a difficult birth, a severe blow to the head, or due to an infection of the brain like meningitis. Occasionally it is caused by a brain tumour. It is said that in around six of ten people, doctors don't know the reason for their epilepsy. 

What are the treatments for  Epilepsy?

Epilepsy medicines like anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are referred. Medicine for epilepsy act on the brain and try to reduce seizures from happening. Other treatments when epilepsy medicines do not work are brain surgery, vagus nerve stimulation, ketogenic diet, deep brain stimulation, and trigeminal nerve stimulation.

Do's and Don'ts of managing seizures

According to CDC, general steps to help a person who is having any type of seizure are as follows:

- Stay with a person until a seizure ends and until he or she is fully awake.

- After the end of a seizure, help a person to sit in a safe place.

- When a person becomes alert or able to communicate then tell them in simple terms what happened to them.

- Make the person comfortable and speak calmly.

- Also, check whether a person is wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information.

- It is also important to keep yourself calm and other people also calm.

- Offer to call a taxi or another person so that he or she can reach home safely.

In case of a tonic-clonic seizure which is also known as a grand mal seizure then things to do to help someone are:

- Ease the person to a floor.

- Turn the person onto one side so that he or she can breathe properly.

- To prevent injury, clean the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.

- Put something soft or flat under his head or her head.

- Removes eyeglasses.

- Lose the tie or anything around the neck so that he or she can breathe.

- If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes then call medical help.

What happens in a tonic-clonic seizure or a grand mal seizure?

In this type of seizure, the person may cry out, fall shake, or jerk, and become unaware of what is going on around them.

What should not be done which is important to keep a person safe during or after a seizure are as follows:

- Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.

- Do not give anything or put anything in the mouth of a person suffering from a seizure. This may injure teeth or the jaw. 

- Do not try to give mouth-to-mouth breaths like CPR. It is said that people start breathing again on their own after a seizure.

- Do not offer the person water or food until he or she is fully alert.

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