12 common epilepsy myths and misconceptions
One of the biggest epilepsy myths but it is actually physically impossible to swallow your tongue.
Absolutely not! That’s a good way to chip teeth, puncture gums, or even break someone’s jaw. The correct first aid is simple. Just gently roll the person on one side and put something soft under his head to protect him from getting injured.
Never use restraint! The seizure will run its course and you cannot stop it. One of the epilepsy myths.
You simply can’t catch epilepsy from another person.
Epilepsy happens to people over age 65 almost as often as it does to children aged ten and under. Seizures in the elderly are often the after effect of other health problems like stroke and heart disease.
People with the condition have the same range of abilities and intelligence as the rest of us. Some have severe seizures and cannot work; others are successful and productive in challenging careers.
People with seizure disorders are found in all walks of life and at all levels in business, government, the arts and the professions. We aren’t always aware of them because many people, even today, do not talk about having epilepsy for fear of what others might think.
Epilepsy is a chronic medical problem that for many people can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, treatment doesn’t work for everyone and there’s a critical need for more research.
There are more than twice as many people with epilepsy in the US as the number of people with cerebral palsy (500,000), muscular dystrophy (250,000), multiple sclerosis (350,000), and cystic fibrosis (30,000) combined. Epilepsy can occur as a single condition, or may accompany other conditions affecting the brain, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injury.
Epilepsy is still a very serious condition and individuals do die from seizures. Experts estimate that prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) are the cause of 22,000 to 42,000 deaths in the US each year. In a major study of status epilepticus, 42% of deaths occurred in individuals with a history of epilepsy.
Seizures commonly take a characteristic form and the individual will do much the same thing during each episode. His behavior may be inappropriate for the time and place, but it is unlikely to cause harm to anyone.
In most cases, epilepsy isn’t a barrier to physical achievement, although some individuals are more severely affected and may be limited in what they can do. Professional sports players with epilepsy have included Greg Walker (Chicago White Sox – baseball), Bobby Jones (Denver Nuggets & Philadelphia ’76ers – basketball), and Gary Howatt (New York Islanders -hockey).
With your help, The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County leads the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures and save lives.