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Embracing awareness: International epilepsy day   |13 February 2024

Embracing awareness: International epilepsy day   

Yesterday, February 12, 2024, marked the observance of International Epilepsy Day – a momentous occasion recognised by the World Health Organisation since 2015, every second Monday of February.

This day serves as a global platform to raise awareness about epilepsy, a complex neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures, affecting millions worldwide. This brain disease affects people of age, genders, and backgrounds.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) this brain disease affects around 6 million people in the African region especially young to middle-aged adults.Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Nearly 80 percent of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.

Epilepsy is not contagious. Although many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy, the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50 percent of cases globally.

The causes of epilepsy are divided into the following categories: structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune and unknown. Examples include:

  • brain damage from prenatal or perinatal causes (e.g. a loss of oxygen or trauma during birth, low birth weight);
  • congenital abnormalities or genetic conditions with associated brain malformations;
  • a severe head injury;
  • a stroke that restricts the amount of oxygen to the brain;
  • an infection of the brain such as meningitis, encephalitis or neurocysticercosis,
  • certain genetic syndromes; and
  • a brain tumor.

What are some symptoms of epilepsy?

  •          Temporary confusion.
  •          Staring spells, some seizures involves a brief period of staring blankly.
  •          Uncontrollable jerking movements, in certain seizures the arms and legs may twitch involuntary.
  •          Loss of consciousness or awareness
  •          Psychological symptoms like déjà vu and anxiety

Types of epilepsy

There are two main types of epilepsy, namely:

  1.        Generalised epilepsy
  2.        Focal epilepsy

There are medicines to reduce symptoms and if it does not work as efficiently then surgery would be recommended by your doctor. Electroencephalogram (EEG) is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. It is a noninvasive and painless test that involves placing electrodes on your scalp to search for abnormal patterns in your brain’s electrical activity. 

To conclude, most cases of epilepsies are curable and the seizure varies from fatal to less fatal. This day is reserved in order to bring more light towards the disease and how it can be managed.


Compiled by Anika Cathene



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