Fact or Fiction? Your guide to epilepsy

If your child has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy, you probably have questions. What you may not realize is that much of what you know about epilepsy may be wrong. Epilepsy is surrounded by mystery and misinformation. Some of the disinformation is harmless. However, some of it could be harmful to your child. We are going to present to you some of the common beliefs people have about epilepsy. Then we’ll tell you if it’s fact or fiction.

Epilepsy is rare.

Fact. Epilepsy affects about 1% of the population, making it a rare disease. However, for a rare disease, it is quite common. 1 in 100 means that in most schools several children with epilepsy are present at the same time.

Anyone who has a seizure has epilepsy.

False. There are actually over 40 different types of attacks. Anyone can have a seizure with the right type of trigger, and about 5% of people will have a seizure in their lifetime. However, that does not make someone epileptic.

Attacks are always accompanied by shock or shaking.

Fiction. While those attacks are more noticeable, there are actually multiple types of attacks. Blank stares or people who seem confused could be a sign of an attack.

People have to go to the hospital after an attack.

Fiction. A person with epilepsy does not need to go to the hospital or seek immediate medical care after a seizure unless they have suffered an injury. A person who has had an isolated seizure should seek medical attention.

Flashing lights trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.

Fact. Flashing lights can trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy. However, only about 3% of people with epilepsy respond to this particular trigger.

If medication doesn’t work, there is no treatment for epilepsy.

Fiction. Surgical alternatives are available for many people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a lifelong condition.

Fiction. While epilepsy can be lifelong in some people, for others it is a temporary condition. Although 2% of people will have epilepsy in their lifetime, only 1% of people will ever have epilepsy.

You should place a spoon in the mouth of a person having a seizure to prevent them from biting their tongue.

Fiction. Never put anything in someone’s mouth while they are having a seizure; you could choke them.

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