Epilepsy is the second most common neurological condition affecting nearly 65 million people worldwide. In this country, nearly 50,000 kids will be newly diagnosed with it each year.
While most people know that epilepsy causes seizures, many don’t really understand much about the condition. In fact, there are far more myths floating around about epilepsy than there are truths. Here’s one: if someone has a seizure, they will swallow their tongue.Not true. They may bite down on their tongue if it is a particularly violent episode, but they cannot physically swallow it.
Here are some other common myths about epilepsy…debunked:
- MYTH: Having epilepsy means you are mentally ill or emotionally unstable.
FACT: Epilepsy is a disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. It is NOT a mental disorder effecting thought or emotion.
- MYTH: Any and all types of seizures indicate epilepsy.
FACT: Epilepsy is diagnosed when a child has two or more seizures more than 24 hours apart. Seizures can also be caused by a traumatic injury, sleep deprivation, or a reaction to an illness or medication.
- MYTH: Seizures are painful.
FACT: Epileptics usually don’t feel anything.
- MYTH: You should stick something in someone’s mouth if they are having a seizure.
FACT: Never put anything inside the mouth of someone suffering from a seizure, especially fingers. They could unknowingly bite down very hard and injure you or themselves in doing so. The best things you can do are rolling him over on his side and making sure sharp objects are out of their way.
- MYTH: You can predict when a seizure is about to happen.
FACT: Some epileptics who have lived with the condition for many years are sometimes able to feel a brief sensation before a seizure occurs but most often though they are unpredictable, especially in young children.
Have more questions about epilepsy? Visit the epilepsy page on our website for more information.