Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments


We have all heard of medical terms, diseases or medical conditions very often. And yes, sure epilepsy is not a new word. But what do we know about it? Today, March 26 is celebrated as Purple Day, as a grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles, Cassidy started Purple Day in an effort to get people talking about the disorder and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. She named the day Purple Day after the internationally recognized color for epilepsy – lavender. Here are a few things that could help you know a little more about this day.

  • The International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) created the International Epilepsy Day
  • The first International Epilepsy Day took place on Monday, February 9, 2015. Following this, the official day will be the second Monday of February each year.
  • On 26 March people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of its awareness and the day are marked as Purple Day.
  • This world day for epilepsy will be a major step in improving its awareness in every region of the world, and will also highlight the urgent need for increased research into epilepsy.
  • This joint initiative of the IBE and the ILAE will be a major event celebrated across the globe in 138 countries. IBE currently has 135 members in 104 countries and ILAE currently has 115 chapters in 127 countries.
  • At least 1 in 100 people develop epilepsy. It happens in all ages, races and social classes. It is most commonly diagnosed in children and people over 65.
What is epilepsy?

It is a common serious neurological condition where there is a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain. Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Seizures can happen for many different reasons, such as diabetes or a heart condition.

Although it can be terrifying to see, you must understand that it is not a medical emergency. Usually, once the shakings have stopped, the person recovers and their breathing goes back to normal. Here is what you can do in such situations.

  • Stay calm
  • Look around to make sure the person is in a safe place
  • Note the time the seizure starts
  • Pillow their head with something soft
  • Don’t put anything in their mouths.
  • If the shaking doesn’t stop after 5 minutes, call for an ambulance
  • After the seizure has stopped, put them into the recovery position and check that their breathing is returning to normal.  Gently check their mouth to see that nothing is blocking their airway. If their breathing sounds difficult after the seizure has stopped, call for an ambulance.

Epilepsy has many possible causes. Causes of epilepsy can be put into three main groups: symptomatic, idiopathic and cryptogenic epilepsy.

Symptomatic epilepsy

When there is a known cause, epilepsy is called ‘symptomatic’. This may include, a head injury, an infection like meningitis, the brain not developing properly, a stroke, a scar or a tumor. In such cases, an MRI scan may show the cause.

Idiopathic epilepsy

Epilepsy is called ‘idiopathic’ when it is thought to be due to a genetic tendency (which could have been inherited from one or both parents) or due to a change that happens in the person’s genes before they are born.

Cryptogenic epilepsy

This is when the cause for a person’s epilepsy has not yet been found, despite investigations.

Just as much frightened as we may be, it is important we gather up some courage and help the victim until help arrives. Watch this step-by-step video to putting someone in the recovery position and be informed.

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