National Epilepsy Day 2023: Date, history, significance; types of seizures

By, New Delhi
Nov 17, 2023 01:18 PM IST

National Epilepsy Day is celebrated every year in India on November 17 to raise awareness around the brain disorder and bust myths surrounding the disease.

An epileptic seizure can come all of a sudden and can be highly distressing for the person experiencing it as they aren't in control of the movements, sounds they are making or the sensations they are feeling. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can cause seizures due to abnormal brain activity or temporary changes in the brain's electrical functioning. As per American Association of Neurological Surgeons, brain continuously generates tiny electrical impulses in an orderly pattern that travel along the network of nerve cells in the brain. In epilepsy, these electrical rhythms become imbalanced, and the normal electrical pattern is disrupted by sudden and synchronized bursts of electrical energy that may briefly affect their consciousness, movements or sensations. (Also read: Top lifestyle changes for managing seizures)

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can cause seizures due to abnormal brain activity or temporary changes in the brain's electrical functioning. (Shutterstock)
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can cause seizures due to abnormal brain activity or temporary changes in the brain's electrical functioning. (Shutterstock)

Epilepsy can be of many types and accordingly the symptoms may vary. As per mayoclinic, some people may lose awareness during a seizure while others may just stare blankly for a few seconds. People may also twitch their arms or legs - movements known as convulsions - in some types of epilepsy. Many famous personalities have battled with epilepsy from Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Elton John, Neil Young, Martin Kemp, to Richard Burton.

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Date of National Epilepsy Day

National Epilepsy Day is celebrated every year on November 17 in India to raise awareness around epilepsy and also its impact on people, families and the society.

History and significance of National Epilepsy Day

The day was first observed by the Epilepsy Foundation of India and was established by Dr Nirmal Surya. The aim of this day was to help needy people who are not able to afford treatment for the disease and also to bust myths surrounding epilepsy, create awareness around symptoms and management of the disease.

According to WHO, around 50 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy and India accounts for nearly 10-20 percent (5-10 million) of the global burden of epilepsy. About 70 percent of people with epilepsy are able to successfully manage epilepsy seizures with medication and certain types of surgery,

Types of epileptic seizures

Seizures can be classified into two broad categories depending on the location of abnormal brain activity. Seizure in one part of brain is called focal seizure and it is usually accompanied by loss of consciousness, while in case of generalised seizures, all areas of brain are involved.

Focal seizures

Focal seizures may alter emotions or sensations transiently, and lead to involuntary jerking or tingling in a body part, dizziness, or flashing lights. In some types there could be impaired awareness and the affected person may stare into space or not respond normally or perform repetitive movements such as hand rubbing, chewing, swallowing, or walking in circles.

Generalized seizures are of following types:

* Absence seizures are characterized by transient staring into space or subtle body movements such as eye blinking or lip-smacking.

* Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, cause a loss of muscle control, which may cause a fall.

* Clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements of the neck, face, and arms.

* Myoclonic seizures usually appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of arms and legs.

* Tonic-clonic seizures can cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, body stiffening, shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting of the tongue.

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