ProActiv People Solutions support educating the public about epilepsy and seizures so we can fight social stigma, ignorance and biases, and to help raise awareness in our community.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition which affects the nervous system causing seizures, and is a developmental disability when onset prior to the age of 18 years.
These seizures are caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder.
Over 65 million people in the world have epilepsy. Approximately one third of people with epilepsy live with uncontrollable seizures as no available treatment works for them.
Common types of seizures include:
- Grand Mal (Tonic-Clonic) – Convulsions, jerking, rigid muscles that typically lasts 1 to 3 minutes, followed by period of confusion and/or disorientation.
- Petit Mal (Absence) – Blank stare sometimes with blinking or chewing motions lasting only a few seconds.
- Atonic (Drop Attacks) – Sudden collapse with recovery within a minute.
- Myoclonic – Sudden onset with massive jerks involving all or parts of the body for a brief period of time.
- Complex Partial (Impaired Awareness) – Staring and dazed facial expression, may perform repetitive random movements and may be unable to talk normally. Generally, the person is unaware or will not remember what occurred, typically lasting 1 or 2 minutes and may be followed by confusion.
- Simple Partial (Aware) – Jerking in one or more parts of the body, with or without sensory or perceptual changes that may or may not be obvious to onlookers; the person is fully aware of what occurs during the seizure.
Keeping a seizure diary:
Medicines can control seizures for many people; however, some may find it difficult to control their seizures. Keeping a seizure diary can help specialists decipher which category of seizures are experienced.
Patients can record events in their diary to track seizure activity i.e. when medicine is taken, what triggers seizures and tracking their seizures. By recording seizure activity, the patient can manage how epilepsy affects their daily life, and help them to live to their fullest potential. This doesn’t mean they must manage their epilepsy alone; they can work together with family, health care teams, and other supports. Since seizures don’t usually happen during an office visit epilepsy is often “invisible” to doctors. That means a doctor is relying on the patient to communicate what their seizures are like, how often they happen, and how they affect a patients’ life. By keeping a seizure diary and taking it to appointments helps to make seizure activity more visible. Self-management helps lookout for triggers of seizure activity, reduces stress and anxiety and improves independence through better education and quality of life
4 things you can do to help reduce seizure activity:
- Get enough sleep – not enough sleep or poor quality of sleep is a common trigger for seizures
- Take medication as prescribed – consistent, regular amounts of medicine are key for seizure medicines to work properly.
- Limit alcohol – too much alcohol can make a person more likely to have seizures, especially the day after drinking. Some seizure medicines may lower alcohol tolerance and heighten the effect.
- Be proactive and see an epilepsy specialist if you are still having seizures or side effects of medicines. Strive to stop seizures – don’t give up or settle for life with continued seizures.
For further information contact your local Epilepsy organisation.
Epilepsy Action has a range of services and practical resources to help self-manage and better understand the condition, including advice from epilepsy nurse educators, individualised seizure management plans, family camps, online courses, support groups and practical resources like an EpiDiary: https://www.epilepsy.org.au/
MyEpilepsyKey is a free resource produced by Epilepsy Action to assist people affected by epilepsy, health care providers and parents through the process of managing or self-managing the condition. It provides access to service programs, interactive resources, information, education, and other resources: https://myepilepsykey.com.au/
Epilepsy Australia is the national partnership of Australian epilepsy organisations that provides information on the latest medical breakthroughs, social research, publications, news and policies about epilepsy.
NSW & Vic www.epilepsyfoundation.org.au
SA & NT www.epilepsycentre.org.au