Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by recurring seizures, which can be mild or severe. Sometimes, people with epilepsy are stigmatized and discriminated against, leading to widespread epilepsy myths in our society.
In this blog post, we will debunk some of the most common epilepsy myths. We hope that this information will help to educate and inform people about this condition.
Myth #01: Epileptics are possessed by demons.
This is one of the oldest and most persistent myths about epilepsy. In ancient times, people with epilepsy were often thought to be possessed by evil spirits. This belief was based on the fact that seizures can sometimes resemble convulsions or fits.
It is important to place this myth in the context of the time it was most prevalent. There was no understanding of the human brain and none of the scientific knowledge we now have about epilepsy when exorcisms were being performed on people who had seizures.
Luckily, science has evolved to a point where we understand how epilepsy works and know how to treat it.
Myth #02: Epilepsy is a mental illness.
This is another common epilepsy myth that needs to be debunked. Epilepsy is not a mental illness, but sometimes people with epilepsy may experience psychiatric symptoms as a result of their condition.
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not caused by epilepsy itself, but are more likely due to the medications used to treat epilepsy or by isolation one may experience if they don’t know anyone else who lives with epilepsy.
That’s why having a community is so important.
Myth #03: People with epilepsy should be restrained.
This myth is especially harmful as it can lead to more hurting than helping during a seizure. There is no need to restrain someone during a seizure. Just let the seizure run its’ course, and always time a seizure.
Seizures usually only last a few minutes, and after the person usually sleeps. If you are with someone having a seizure, focus on keeping them safe by moving objects out of the way and clearing their airway if necessary. Do not try to stop the seizure or hold them down.
Myth #04: People with epilepsy can’t be around flashing lights.
Photosensitive epilepsy is a real thing, but it only affects a very small percentage of people with epilepsy- about three percent. It is always considerate to ask your friends with epilepsy if they can go to a certain movie known for flashing lights or a party, for example, but remember that they usually know how to take care of themselves best.
Myth #05: People with epilepsy can swallow their tongues during a seizure.
This is one of the most persistent myths about epilepsy, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. The tongue is a muscle, and it cannot be swallowed whether you live with epilepsy or not.
There is actually a very small chance of choking during a seizure, but it has nothing to do with the tongue. It is more likely to happen if the person is vomiting. This is why we turn people that are convulsing on their side. It allows any vomit to come out without going back down the throat.
This myth can be harmful when well-meaning bystanders put objects in someone’s mouth during a seizure, intending to give them something to bite down on. This object to bite down on usually turns into a choking hazard.
Those are our 5 myths for today!
Email me with any more you’ve heard over the years-there are certainly more than 5 out there.