As the world marks International Epilepsy Day on February 12 2024 individual around the globe are coming together to share stories, raise awareness, and celebrate milestones in their epilepsy journey.

This year’s theme “Milestones on My Epilepsy Journey” focuses on celebrating the personal achievements and strength of individuals living with epilepsy. It’s an opportunity to break the silence surrounding the condition and raise awareness. The focus is on implementing the WHO’s global action plan, which tackles barriers like lack of understanding, social stigma, and access to diagnosis, treatment, and support.

Epilepsy is a complex neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It manifests through recurring, unprovoked seizures caused by surges of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy is a spectrum disorder, meaning these seizures can vary widely in type and severity affecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

According to statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.

However, it is important to note that not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy, as it can be a symptom of other medical problems. It’s a complex condition that can have different causes and impacts on individuals. It’s important to raise awareness, provide support, and break down misconceptions about epilepsy.

Although many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy, epilepsy is not contagious. According to WHO, the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50 percent of cases globally. The causes are divided into structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune, and unknown categories.

Temporary symptoms include loss of consciousness, disturbances of movement, sensation (including vision, hearing and taste), mood or other cognitive functions. Epileptic people tend to have more physical problems as well as higher rates of psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Health experts argue that the risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than in the general population.

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Treating epilepsy
Living with epilepsy can require some extra thought and consideration. People with epilepsy need to be mindful of activities like driving, certain job opportunities, and family planning. However, with proper management and treatment, many people with epilepsy can live normal lives.

According to WHO, seizures can be controlled. Up to 70 percent of people living with epilepsy could become seizure free with appropriate use of anti-seizure medicines.

Anti-seizure medications are often the first line of treatment and can successfully control seizures for about 7 out of 10 people. In some cases, additional therapies like surgery, dietary therapy, or neurostimulation devices may be recommended. These treatments aim to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, improving overall quality of life. It’s

always best to work closely with healthcare professionals to find the most effective treatment plan.

Seizures can interfere with learning, social interactions, and emotional well-being, so it’s crucial to have a comprehensive support system in place. Collaboration between educators, healthcare providers, and parents is essential to implement tailored accommodations in schools and create an inclusive environment for these children.

An estimated 25 percent of epilepsy cases are potentially preventable. Preventing head injuries, ensuring adequate perinatal care; to reduce birth injury-induced epilepsy, use of drugs, and eliminating parasites that cause central nervous system infections are some of the ways to potentially prevent epilepsy.

Parental involvement plays a vital role in successful management. Not only are parents primary caregivers, but they also serve as advocates for their children. Support groups and educational resources can empower parents with valuable information, coping strategies, and a sense of community.

It’s exciting to see that research in pediatric epilepsy is advancing, exploring innovative treatments and technologies like responsive neurostimulation devices and precision medicine approaches. However, it’s important to consider the ethical implications and the long-term effects on developing brains before implementing these approaches.

Addressing epilepsy in children requires a multifaceted approach, including accurate diagnosis, age-appropriate treatments, and robust support systems. Collaboration between healthcare professionals, educators, and parents is key to ensuring optimal outcomes for children living with this neurological condition. Let’s continue to raise awareness and support these efforts!