Though a great number of people live with epilepsy throughout the UK, there unfortunately is not enough wide spread knowledge surrounding life with the condition nor the condition itself.
Sadly a vast majority of people in society are either misinformed or completely unaware of the realities that are faced by the nearly 500,000 people that live with the condition in the UK.
This can be due to quite a number of reasons, whether lack of exposure to those that live with the condition, relying on dated information that has since been proven wrong or incorrect, or the misrepresented narrative that is presented by media surrounding life with the condition.
This has led to a bit of a stigma surrounding neurological conditions and those that live with them, as well as a dangerous situation in which the public at large may not know how to properly respond in the event of someone close to them experiencing an epilepsy induced seizure.
So to help combat that stigma and increase awareness of the unique challenges faced by those who live with epilepsy, let us take a look at one of the most fundamental aspects of life with epilepsy, epilepsy induced seizures.
Understanding what an epilepsy induced seizure is…
If you mention epilepsy or even the word seizure, most people would immediately conjure images of a person convulsing violently on the floor, and while this experience is very much real for a small subset of people who live with epilepsy, it’s certainly not to the degree or frequency to which it is sometimes misrepresented in the media. It does not fully encapsulate what many people experience as life with epilepsy.
First and foremost, a majority of people who live with epilepsy have their symptoms completely controlled, meaning seizures of any type are not a part of their normal day, though the possibility still exists, medication and treatment has mitigated that risk until it is all but completely gone.
So with that said, let us take a look at what an epilepsy induced seizure actually is, given that the representation or public notion held is a bit off the mark and untrue for the vast majority of people.
Recognising that there are many different types of seizures…
This has to be the most surprising piece of information shared with people who don’t fully understand the condition, not the experiences of those who live with epilepsy as a vast majority of people believe there is but one type of seizure and certainly only one that those living with the condition experience. Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are nearly forty types of seizures recognised within the medical community and each person exhibits a unique experience within their particular symptoms.
Before we move forward though, it is important to first define what a seizure actually is as there may be a bit of confusion surrounding it. Simply put a seizure is an abnormal occurrence in which regions of the brain simultaneously become active, similar to a lightning storm but within a person’s brain. It is this surge of activity within the brain that causes a person to experience what is defined as a seizure, though the type of seizure and severity depend on the particular person’s condition.
Research and classification of epilepsy…
Most epileptic seizures fell into one of two categories, either grand mal or petit mal. Though this does not fully explain nor capture the complexities of the experience and has led to quite a few misunderstandings surrounding the condition.
This created the need for a new classification system that better explained the particular type of experience a person was undergoing, taking into account several different factors including, location of the brain in which the seizure originated and affected, the level of awareness during the seizure, as well the actual experience of the seizure itself as defined by displayed symptoms.
As doctors and researchers began to redefine the very way in which we look at epileptic seizures, a better understanding of the particular challenges and experiences of those living with the condition began to take shape. Rather than a one size fits all type of diagnosis and experience, the creation of the new classification system gave doctors and those living with the condition the opportunity to better grasp the experience themselves while making it easier for others to readily identify with the experience.
The classification system itself is available to read on the Epilepsy Foundation’s website.
While the classification system is rather extensive, as any area of medical knowledge should be, taking the time to acquaint yourself with the different types of seizures will help erase much of the misunderstandings that surround life with the condition and help erase the stigma surrounding life with not only epilepsy but with any neurological condition.