Epilepsy is one of the most common health conditions that affect the normal functioning of the brain and often results in seizures. Studies have shown that persons with the health condition are at a greater risk of death and an early age compared to those without the condition.
The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare information define the condition as a central nervous system disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviours or sensations or lack of awareness.
Epilepsy can occur anywhere and at any time. In recent weeks, a final-year male student of The University of the West Indies died in his dorm room on campus. While his cause of death has not been confirmed, his mother noted that he had a history of seizures.
When seizures occur, sufferers of the condition can hurt themselves because they are in an unconscious state which often results in them falling to the ground. Sufferers of the condition may require immediate medical intervention when an epileptic attack occurs.
Sadly, many people with the health condition are often stigmatised by persons around them who do not fully understand the cause of the health condition and the symptoms that are associated with the condition. This may also prevent persons with the condition from seeking medical assistance due to a fear of stigmatization.
Signs and Symptoms
Epilepsy may be classified into two categories minor and major epilepsy. According to a First Aid Manual published by the St John Ambulance, St Andrew’s Ambulance Association and The British Red Cross Society, minor epilepsy is a condition that develops in childhood and can go unnoticed because the sufferer of the condition may seem to be daydreaming.
The signs and symptoms of minor epilepsy may include:
- The sufferer of the condition may appear to be in a daydream and be staring ahead blankly.
- The sufferer of the condition may display unusual behaviours such as chewing, smacking lips and speaking unusually.
- The sufferer may also have memory lost
Contrastingly, major epilepsy refers to an epileptic attack that occurs unexpectedly. There are instances where these attacks may have early warning signs such as an unusual feeling in the body or an unusual taste or smell. The signs and symptoms of major epilepsy include:
- The sufferer of the condition may lose his/her consciousness and falls to the ground.
- The sufferer may become rigid for a few seconds and breathing may seize.
- The mouth and lips of the sufferer may turn blue, a condition known as cyanosis and there will be a build-up of congestion around the face and neck.
- The muscles then relax and begin a vigorous jerking movement. During this stage, the breathing of the sufferer may become noisy because of a clenched draw. There may even be frothing or the loss of control of the bladder or bowel movement.
- The breathing will return to normalcy five minutes after a fit.
Providing medical intervention during an epileptic attack can help to save a life. The aim is to protect the person suffering from the attack from getting injured during the state of unconsciousness.
- Protect the suffer of the attack from surrounding dangers
- Stay with the person until they have regained consciousness
- Encourage the sufferer to see a doctor
- If the sufferer of the attack is falling try to break the fall by offering support and placing them at a safe location.
- Place a comfortable or soft object under the head and ensure that the individual is not crowded.
- Do not attempt to lift or move the individual unless they are in danger.
- Do not attempt to restrain the individual.
- Do not put anything in the individual’s mouth.
- Do not attempt to wake the individual. Stay with the individual until they have regained full consciousness
- When the epileptic attack is over stay with the casualty until they have regained full recovery.
- Advise the causality to visit a doctor.
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