Epilepsy Awareness and Seizure First Aid
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system, specifically of the brain. It is characterized by the tendency to have recurrent seizures.
A person would be diagnosed with epilepsy if they have:
- at least two unprovoked (or reflex) seizures or
- one unprovoked (or reflex) seizure and are very likely to have another or
- a diagnosed of an epilepsy syndrome.
The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) recently classified epilepsy as a disease, instead of a disorder, to better convey that epilepsy is a serious medical condition.
EPILEPSY IS HIGHLY TREATABLE
Almost 70% of people with epilepsy can gain seizure freedom with medication alone. Almost 30% of persons living with epilepsy have drug-resistant epilepsy. There are additional treatments for people with drug-resistant epilepsy that can possibly improve seizure control or perhaps stop seizures altogether.
EPILEPSY IS MORE THAN JUST SEIZURES
A national survey conducted in 2012, The Impact of Epilepsy on Canadians, asked respondents to identify the daily challenges of living with epilepsy beyond the seizures themselves. The top three challenges identified were lack of independence including not being able to drive (identified by 56% of respondents), impact on social life (38%), and stigma, discrimination and lack of awareness (38%). Maintaining employment (31%), maintaining relationships (25%), and financial strain due to cost of medications (24%) were not far behind. These results demonstrate how epilepsy and seizures can make an impact on everyday life well beyond medical concerns.
PEOPLE OF ALL AGES LIVE WITH EPILEPSY
Epilepsy does not discriminate and can begin at any time during a person’s life.
WHAT DO I DO IF I SEE SOMEONE HAVE A SEIZURE?
1. STAY CALM
Most often, a seizure will run its course and end naturally within a few minutes.
2. TIME IT
Call 911 if:
- the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes
- the seizure repeats without full recovery between seizures
- the person is pregnant or has diabetes
- the person is injured from the seizure
- the seizure occurs in water
- you are not sure if the person has epilepsy
3. PROTECT FROM INJURY
- Move sharp objects away.
- If the person falls to the ground, roll them on their side when it is safe to do so.
- Place something soft under their head.
- If the person wanders during their seizure, stay by their side and gently steer them away from danger.
- When the seizure ends, provide reassurance and stay with the person if they are confused.
ABOUT 1 IN 10 PEOPLE WILL HAVE A SEIZURE IN THEIR LIFETIME.
There are many potential reasons why someone could have a seizure. Some seizures are a symptom of an acute condition, such as an illness or alcohol-withdrawal. Some people will have an isolated seizure for no apparent reason and never have another one. A single seizure is not necessarily epilepsy.