Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disease of the brain that can affect people of all ages. Each age group has its unique concerns and problems
India observes National Epilepsy Day on November 17 to spread awareness about the brain disorder marked by sudden and recurrent episodes of seizures or fits.
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Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disease of the brain that can affect people of all ages. Each age group has its unique concerns and problems.
The seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement in part of the body or the entire body, are caused as a result of sudden, excessive electrical discharges in the brain cells. At times, seizures are accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are about 50 million people in the world who have epilepsy. Of this, 80 percent of people with epilepsy live in developing countries. India has nearly 10 million people suffering from seizures associated with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is considered to be one of the oldest recognised conditions in the world. Written records about the disorder date back to 4000 BCE. However, fear, social stigma, misunderstanding and discrimination have affected people having epilepsy for centuries.
One seizure does not imply that the person has epilepsy. The WHO defines epilepsy as a disorder having two or more unprovoked seizures. Some of the other symptoms include sudden twitching or uncontrollable jerking motions of the arms and legs, tingling sensation in arms or legs and stiffness in muscles of arms or legs or face.
A person may have temporary symptoms such as loss of awareness or consciousness, and disturbances of movement, mood, or other cognitive functions.
Causes of epilepsy
Epilepsy is not a contagious disorder even though many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy. As per the WHO, the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50 percent of cases globally. Health experts have divided the causes of epilepsy into categories such as structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune and unknown. These can include:
Up to 70 percent of people living with epilepsy are able to overcome seizures with the appropriate use of medicines. Doctors suggest considering discontinuing anti-seizure medication after two years without seizures.