Have you recently noticed buildings being lit with the color purple? Did you know that 1 in 26 people, in the United States, will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime? You guessed it. November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month and purple calls awareness to this important, very common condition.
Chances are you probably know someone, who has been diagnosed with some type of epilepsy. Approximately 1 person in every classroom, 2 football players per team, 1 soccer player per team, or 2 members of a middle school band make up “1 in 26” people with this condition.
What exactly is epilepsy you ask? Epilepsy is characterized by a person having two or more unprovoked seizures. Meaning the seizures were not a result of having fever, illness, or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.
Seizures can be caused by an excessive amount of electrical activity in the brain. At a certain point, the brain needs to “reset,” therefore causing a variety of seizure symptoms. The symptoms can range from something as simple as a strange feeling in a person’s stomach to uncontrolled rhythmic movements of the entire body, called a convulsion. Seizures can take on many forms, but most of them happen with a loss of consciousness or a person being “out of it.” Parents, teachers and coaches are usually the first ones to notice something has changed with a child’s awareness, grades and/or behavior.
About 10% of people will have a seizure at some point in their life, and some of those people will develop epilepsy. However, people live with seizures every day, and if they are controlled, people can lead full and happy lives.
The Epilepsy Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, along with the Epilepsy Foundation, and their national campaign “1 in 26,” are spreading the word about how prevalent epilepsy is in communities.
If you are concerned your child, or a child you know, is having seizures, it’s best to contact the child’s pediatrician. Getting the proper treatment for seizures is important and seeking medical advice is the first step.
Nancy Auer is an experienced nurse practitioner who works at the Epilepsy Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She has many years of experience working with children who have developmental disabilities, epilepsy and other complex neurological problems.
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