International Epilepsy Day 12 Feb, 2024

Since 2015, February’s second Monday has been marked as International Epilepsy Day (IED), a global healthcare event aimed at uniting epileptic patients and fostering a community where knowledge of the condition’s epidemiological profile, diagnosis, and treatment options is exchanged. 

Introduction to Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common medical illness that has psychological and emotional effects on both sufferers and caretakers. Approximately 80% of the 650 million epilepsy patients globally are found in developing countries, where there are 40–70 new cases for every 100,000 people. The European Brain Council assessed the illness burden of epilepsy to be 16 crores, 10 lakhs Euros in 2004 and 21 crores, 20 lakhs Euros in 2010, based on epidemiological and health economic data.

In India, the prevalence of epilepsy is 5.59–10 per 1000 people. In India, there are more than a crore epileptic sufferers, or more than 1% of the total population. The prevalence was higher in rural areas (1.9%) compared to urban areas (0.6%).

Knowing About Epilepsy

Recurrent seizures are the hallmark of epilepsy, a neurological condition brought on by aberrant electrical activity in the brain. It can significantly influence day-to-day living and afflict people of all ages. Although the precise etiology of epilepsy is frequently unknown, it can be linked to a number of conditions, including infections, brain injuries, genetic predispositions, and developmental abnormalities.

Depending on the type of seizure and the part of the brain affected, epilepsy symptoms can vary greatly. Temporary bewilderment, bouts of gazing, uncontrollably jerky arm and leg movements, and loss of consciousness or awareness are common symptoms.

Seizures come in many forms, but they can be broadly divided into two groups: focal seizures and generalized seizures. Often referred to as partial seizures, focal seizures target a particular region of the brain and can produce localized symptoms including twitching, tingling, or dizziness. Generalized seizures can result in loss of consciousness and generalized convulsions due to aberrant activity across the brain.

What is the theme for International Epilepsy Day in 2024?

Milestones on My Epilepsy Journey” is the theme for International Epilepsy Day in 2024. The topic is showcasing individual accomplishments despite the obstacles caused by the illness. It seeks to inspire people to speak up and share their accomplishments.

Why is International Epilepsy Day (IED) important?

The majority of people with epilepsy do not regularly have access to antiseizure medications, and the general standard of epilepsy care is inadequate even in the wealthiest nations. Moreover, lowering obstacles to excellent care does not ensure successful therapy outcomes.

A third of epileptics are resistant to treatment. To improve our understanding of pathophysiologic reasons and develop more potent medications, research activities must be stepped up.

The significance of designating a distinct day for epilepsy could raise awareness of the condition, which could benefit sufferers in a number of ways, including by lessening stigma, raising financing for medical research on the condition, and developing patient-specific policies. Gaps in medical care are not the only problems that must be resolved. 

The History of World Epilepsy Day (IED)

International Epilepsy Day, which was founded in 2015 by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), serves as a reminder to the public of the goal of giving epilepsy patients a globally recognized platform on which to persuasively share their experiences and tales with esteemed audiences. In addition to advising sufferers to live life to the fullest, it promotes sensible regulations to make life easier for those who suffer from epilepsy. 

Prevention of epilepsy

The following are the most popular methods to lower your risk of acquiring epilepsy:

  • Preventing traumatic brain injuries

Safety belts and motorcycle helmets can help prevent motor vehicle and traffic injuries, as brain trauma is often the cause of epilepsy.

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke

Reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke via healthy eating, regular exercise, and quitting smoking can help people with epilepsy in later life.

  • Disease prevention

Immunizations and vaccinations against specific illnesses, which can occasionally result in epilepsy, may help avert the condition.

  • Preserving personal hygiene

Worldwide, cysticercosis, an infection brought on by the tapeworm Taenia solium, is a prevalent cause of epilepsy. By practicing good cleanliness and properly cooking the pig, it can be readily avoided.

Medication and Handling

Depending on the specific requirements of each patient, a variety of treatments are frequently used to manage epilepsy. Antiepileptic drugs, which help limit seizures by regulating electrical activity in the brain, are the main treatment for epilepsy. Antiepileptic drugs come in a wide variety, and the selection of treatment is influenced by several variables, including the kind of epilepsy, the frequency and intensity of seizures, the age of the patient, and their general health.

When treating epilepsy, surgery might be advised in some circumstances, especially if the seizures are uncontrollable with medicine or if the seizures come from a specific location in the brain that can be safely removed. The epileptogenic zone—the region of the brain responsible for the seizures—is frequently removed or disconnected during epilepsy surgery.

Changing one’s lifestyle can also help manage epilepsy. These could include obtaining adequate sleep, avoiding situations or objects that can cause seizures (such as bright lights or certain drugs), and leading a healthy lifestyle that includes frequent exercise and a well-balanced diet.

Innovation and Research in Epilepsy

Recent years have seen notable developments in the study and management of epilepsy. To better manage epilepsy, researchers are looking into novel drugs and treatment modalities as well as creating cutting-edge technologies. Finding biomarkers that can forecast seizures and influence treatment choices is one field of investigation. The goal of further study is to identify the fundamental causes of epilepsy and provide focused treatments to address them.

For those suffering from epilepsy, cutting-edge therapies like deep brain stimulation (DBS) and responsive neurostimulation (RNS) are providing new hope. To help manage seizures, these therapies entail implanting devices that provide electrical stimulation to particular brain regions. For those who qualify, these therapies can change a person’s life, even if they are not appropriate for everyone with epilepsy.

Assisting People with Epilepsy

It is essential for the well-being of people with epilepsy and their families to offer them support and understanding. It can be difficult to live with epilepsy, but having a solid support network can help a lot. Individuals and their families can benefit from support groups, counseling, and instructional materials as they navigate the healthcare system and deal with the difficulties posed by epilepsy.

Campaigns for Advocacy and Awareness

Campaigns for advocacy and awareness are essential for raising awareness about epilepsy and providing support to individuals who are impacted by it. These initiatives seek to enhance access to care and support services for people with epilepsy, lessen stigma, and foster greater understanding. Advocates can enhance the quality of life for individuals with epilepsy and their families by promoting policy changes and increasing awareness of the condition.

In conclusion, we may debunk myths and misconceptions about epilepsy and advance a better knowledge of this intricate neurological illness by addressing these subtopics. By banding together, we can lobby for better care and support services, offer assistance to people with epilepsy and their families, and strive toward a future where epilepsy is more widely recognized and effectively treated.

Having Epilepsy and Living with It

For those with epilepsy and their families, living with the condition can bring special challenges. Seizures can have negative psychological and physical effects in addition to potential social stigma and prejudice. In order to effectively manage their disease, many individuals with epilepsy may also need help and accommodations, as well as limitations in their everyday activities.

In order to lessen stigma and misconceptions, it is critical to educate the public and increase knowledge of epilepsy. We can foster a more accepting and encouraging environment for those with epilepsy by growing in empathy and understanding.

First Aid for Seizures

Remaining composed and taking precautions to keep the person safe are crucial when they are experiencing a seizure. The following instructions provide first assistance for seizures:

  • Remain at their side and ensure their safety from harm. To avoid any adjacent objects striking them during the seizure, move them out of the way. Never put anything in the person’s mouth or put them in restraint. It’s not necessary to put something in someone’s mouth or hold them down when they’re having a seizure, unlike what the general public believes. This is not beneficial and may result in harm.
  • Time the epileptic fit. Contact emergency personnel right away if the seizure lasts more than five minutes or if the victim experiences breathing difficulties thereafter.
  • As soon as the seizure stops and the person is completely awake and aware, stay by their side. Assure them and make sure they have a good night’s sleep afterward.

You can contribute to the safety and well-being of someone who is having a seizure by following these easy actions.

Facts and figures about Epilepsy 

  • 65 million individuals worldwide suffer from epilepsy.
  • In the US, 3.4 million or more people have epilepsy.
  • At some point in their lives, 1 in 26 Americans will experience epilepsy.
  • In the United States, 150,000 new instances of epilepsy are diagnosed annually.
  • A third of epileptics experience uncontrollable seizures because there is currently no medicine that can help them.
  • Six out of ten individuals with epilepsy have an enigmatic cause.
  • More than one in a thousand epileptics pass away from sudden, unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) each year.
  • In the developed world, 4 out of 10 persons with epilepsy do not receive the proper care.
  • In impoverished countries, 8 out of 10 persons with epilepsy do not receive the proper care.
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