November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month! If you, or a loved one, has been diagnosed with epilepsy, we encourage you to visit the National Epilepsy Awareness Foundation for tips, tools and information about living with epilepsy.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder affecting the brain. According to the CDC, epilepsy affects 65 million people worldwide and 2.2 million Americans. In some instances epilepsy may be induced by a brain injury, or appear in other family members, but for the most part, the cause is unknown.
What are common signs and symptoms of epilepsy?
Symptoms of epilepsy will vary with each individual, but because epilepsy affects the brain, a seizure may produce symptoms similar to the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncontrolled movement of the legs and arms
- Confusion accompanied by staring, or an inability to focus on his or her surroundings
- Difficulty breathing
Although symptoms will vary with each individual, it is not uncommon for a person with epilepsy to experience similar symptoms each time they experience a seizure.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
According to the Mayo Clinic, epilepsy may be diagnosed if a person experiences two or more unprovoked seizures. If you, or a loved one, experiences a seizure for the first time, it is always recommended that you seek immediate medical care. Once diagnosed, you and your doctor will work together to create a treatment plan that works for you.
What is the treatment for epilepsy?
The treatment of epilepsy has changed over the years and is now oftentimes controlled through a combination of surgery and medication. As is the case with many medical conditions, initial diagnosis and effective treatment can be trial and error. While one treatment plan works well for some, there is not a single plan that works for all. Working together with your doctor is the best course of action once you have been diagnosed with epilepsy.
Should I wear a medical ID bracelet if I have epilepsy?
If you have epilepsy, you should be wearing a medical ID bracelet at all times – and it is especially important when you are traveling. Medical personnel should immediately be alerted to your condition so they can treat you as quickly and effectively as possible in the event of an emergency. When you are away from your doctor, family, and friends who understand your condition, a medical ID is essential. We recommend engraving your epilepsy alert bracelet like this:
FIRST AND LAST NAME
EPILEPSY OR MEDICAL CONDITION
MEDICATIONS AND ALLERGIES
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBER
DR. PHONE NUMBER