A consultant pediatrician, University of Benin, Professor Paul Ukhurionan, has dispelled the myth that epilepsy is contagious, untreatable, and appealed for the spread of accurate information to support people with the condition.

Speaking on the topic, Epilepsy: The Myth, the Mystery and the true story, during a seminar organized by the Institute of Child Health, University of Benin/University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), to commemorate the World Epilepsy Day, in Benin City, Prof. Ukhurionan said epilepsy is not contagious and it is treatable.

According to Prof. Ukhurionan, “The public should stop denying people with epilepsy the compassion they deserve because the disease is not contagious. The condition shrouded in mystery is a disease of the brain and it is treatable.

“The main goal of Purple Day is to break the stigma as more parents deal with perceived stigma than real stigma, and they are likely to have depression and low esteem. The parents of epilepsy patients should join support groups to enable them have the power to go through.

“The public should spread accurate information and support people with epilepsy. Encourage the forming of support groups by people with the condition and at the community level people should talk about it to provide more truth about the disease.”

While advocating that funds must be made available to research on the condition,, which started a long time ago, Prof. Ukhurionan said epilepsy is still an area of research, adding that it is a disease of the brain and not the mind that results in at least two unprovoked seizures at least in 24 hours apart

“There are several environmental causes of epilepsy including adverse perinatal events, trauma and brain infections. Discourage the throwing up and shaking of babies because it affects the brain,” he said.

Epilepsy stigma persists due to misconceptions and it is defined by recurrent unprovoked seizures, which result from exaggerated brain impulses, he said.

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While disclosing that treatment goals include seizure control, minimize side effects of drugs and ensuring a good quality of life, he noted that very important people in history had epilepsy such as Michael Faraday, Julius Caesar and Albert Nobel.

“Breaking stigma can be done through education, support groups, advocacy, accommodating the challenges of people with epilepsy and research, are crucial to dispel myths and support patients,” he further said.

It was revealed during the question and answer session that, “handling seizures outside the hospital involves ensuring safety, not restraining the patient, removing tight clothing and seeking medical help if seizures last over five minutes.

“Do not attempt to prevent clenching of teeth as the patient gets hurt in the process. Do not also attempt to give oral medications during a seizure as the patient may aspirate,” he said.

Earlier, the chairman of the seminar, Professor Frank Imariagbe, said the most demonized illness in the world today is epilepsy and it is sad that most people are hiding and they do not know that they can be treated.

“There are several prominent people including professors who have epilepsy but it does not stop them from living their lives well. The Institute of Child Health should be commended for the seminar to ensure that people know about the disease,” he said.

The director, Institute of Child Health, Professor (Mrs) Ayebo Sadoh, who said the Institute used the opportunity of the seminar to collaborate with the UBTH Purple Day Committee to mark the World Epilepsy Awareness Day, advised that the disease should not be stigmatized and people should know how it can be managed