More people than you realise have epilepsy, but many are scared to talk about it. This is why myth busting is so important. Over 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy, that’s more than the entire population of the UK! Over 600,000 people in the UK have epilepsy and 112,000 under the age of 25.
Around 60% of people who have epilepsy have no idea what causes their seizures. Triggers for seizures vary but can include a lack of sleep, dehydration, stress or missing medication, and only around 3% of all people with epilepsy have seizures triggered by flashing lights.
There are 40 different types of epileptic seizures including general tonic clonic (these are the types of seizures often seen in movies or on TV), and absence seizures, where people may appear to blank out for a moment. People without epilepsy can have seizures too, these can be caused by other factors such as a high fever or head injury or even a tumour. One seizure doesn’t equal epilepsy.
Someone who is having a seizure will not actually swallow their tongue, but their tongue can block their airway. While someone is having a seizure do not put anything in their mouth! This could hurt them and you. Wait until the person has finished having the seizure and check that their tongue isn’t blocking their airway. Don’t forget as well that there are 40 different types of seizures, they don’t all look the same.
People with epilepsy can’t drive within one year of having a seizure but if someone has been seizure free for over a year they can get back behind the wheel of a car provided 1) they have a licence to start with! and 2) it’s in date and 3) they have checked it with the relevant authorities.
Epilepsy affects everyone in different ways, but most people with epilepsy can live a full and happy life. People with epilepsy are found in all walks of life, as business men and women, politicians, high court judges, rock-stars, actors, scientists, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and friends