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‘Eat, sleep well, take medicines’

Epilepsy can occur when superficial areas of the brain are damaged by a tumor, brain stroke, head injury in an accident or during birth. It may also occur due to abnormalities in the functioning of neurons.

mumbai Updated: Nov 16, 2009 02:00 IST

What causes epilepsy?
Epilepsy can occur when superficial areas of the brain are damaged by a tumor, brain stroke, head injury in an accident or during birth. It may also occur due to abnormalities in the functioning of neurons.
It is estimated that one in every 200 people in the developing countries suffers from epilepsy. It can start at any age, but is common in small children and the elderly. Children normally outgrow the problem.

What is a seizure?
A seizure or fit occurs due to a sudden but transient excessive electrical discharge in the brain. There are different types of seizures: Grand mal seizure is where the person falls to the ground, his body becomes stiff and starts shaking uncontrollably. There may be frothing at the mouth. The person may pass urine or bite his tongue. In Simple partial seizure, the person stays conscious and may experience an unusual feeling or jerking of limbs. In Complex partial seizure, a patient may be partially aware and experience some uncontrolled behaviour.

Can epilepsy be cured?
Over 70 per cent of epileptic patients are able to control seizures with medication. About 20 to 30 per cent of the patients continue to have seizures despite medications. Brain surgery may help cure some of these patients.

What precautions should a person with epilepsy take?
Regular medication is necessary even after fits seize to occur.
Take meals on time and sleep well. Lack of sleep can precipitate seizures.
Avoid driving, swimming, or working with heavy machinery while the disorder is active.

What is treatment gap?
Treatment gap is defined as the percentage of persons with active epilepsy who are not receiving treatment. The treatment gap in underdeveloped countries ranges from 70 to 94 per cent. Nearly 30 lakh people with epilepsy in rural India are not receiving treatment. Fear, misunderstanding and the social stigma often force patients into the shadows.