Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Week in Epilepsy Awareness

There are only a few more days left in November, the designated Epilepsy Awareness Month, but I plan to continue increasing epilepsy awareness and supporting other individuals and organizations doing the same even after November ends.   I have learned so much while researching epilepsy and have enjoyed sharing a fact a day.
In case you missed past weekly recaps, please visit the first few facts, week two, and week three.

We’re in the home stretch now!
Fact 20:  According to the fact sheet from Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, “the leading non-medical problem confronting people with epilepsy is discrimination in education, employment and social acceptance.”  Here’s the solution:  Everyone who discriminates - knock it off!  (I thought I’d try to be a bit subtle this Sunday morning).

Fact 21:  Statistics don't lie - Epilepsy research needs better funding.
2005 National Institutes of Health Research Funding Statistics (courtesy of CURE Epilepsy): 

Alzheimer’s: 4.5 million affected; NIH research money:  $149 per person;
Epilepsy:  2.7 million affected; NIH research money:  $39 per person
Autism: 1.5 million affected; NIH research money:  $68 per person;
Parkinson’s:  1 million affected; NIH research money:  $225 per person;
Multiple Sclerosis:  350,000 affected; NIH research money:  $314 per person;

Fact 22:  Rules for obtaining a driver’s license vary by state but, generally, each state requires people to be seizure free for a certain period of time, ranging from a couple of months to over a year, before they are able to obtain a license.  Other considerations such as the types of medication a person is on to control seizures are factored into the decision to grant a driver’s license.  In California, there are two types of Medical Probation.   One is for drivers who have 3 – 5 months of seizure control and the other is for those with 6 months or more seizure control.  Check the DMV in your state to get the specific rules. 

Fact 23:  What is epilepsy exactly?  First, epilepsy is a disorder; not a disease.  A seizure can be described as an electrical storm in the brain.  Normal brain function limits the spread of electrical activity but a seizure happens when this breaks down and allows this electrical storm to spread in the brain.  A person is thought to have epilepsy when they have had at least two seizures.    
Fact 24: A diet related fact for Thanksgiving!  A Ketogenic diet is sometimes used to treat epilepsy in children.  This is an extremely high fat, very low carb diet and was first developed in the 1920s after it was noticed that when people with epilepsy fasted, they had fewer seizures.  This diet is generally more successful in children but a doctor should be consulted before trying it. 

Fact 25:  In almost 75% of cases of epilepsy, no cause can be found.  So many conditions can cause epilepsy or are related to epilepsy that it’s difficult to track down the exact cause.  It can be caused by an abnormality in brain wiring, imbalance of brain chemistry, injury, poisoning, brain tumor, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, or any combination of these (just to name a few). says “Researchers believe that some people with epilepsy have an abnormally high level of excitatory neurotransmitters that increase neuronal activity, while others have an abnormally low level of inhibitory neurotransmitters that decrease neuronal activity in the brain. Either situation can result in too much neuronal activity and cause epilepsy.”
Fact 26:  Women living with epilepsy have unique issues to manage.  For instance, some antiepileptic drugs can interfere with the efficacy of oral contraceptives.  Half of women with epilepsy report increased seizures around the time of their menstruation and it’s been found that menopause and perimenopause can cause changes in seizures as well. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you learned at least one thing new about epilepsy!  Please share your experiences with epilepsy in the comment section. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info you provided this month. It helped me with my efforts in Epilepsy Awareness by sharing your info on my FB page. Yes, despite being 40 years into this journey, there were many interesting facts that I didn't know about, especially how underfunded Epilepsy research is. What a shame.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Linda, That was a big eye opener for me as well. As prevelant as it is, the funding is scarce! Now to find my last fact for the month. :-)