Today, we will talk about a disease which is known to man for many centuries.
In layman terms, this disease is simply called 'fits' while in medical terminology, it is known as 'epilepsy'.
Epilepsy is a very common problem in the world.
Take, for example, in Pakistan millions of people are suffering from it or maybe even more than that.
It affects people living in rural areas as well as urban areas, men as well as women.
The disease mostly affects young people.
As an estimation, 70% of people with epilepsy are young, while 30% develop epilepsy after 50 years of age.
Myths about Epilepsy
Although this term is not new for many people because they have seen others in their surroundings suffering from it.
But at the same time, there are many misconceptions prevalent in the society about this disease.
Many people think that the 'fits' are because of 'evil possession' and they then prefer seeing a 'faith healer' for this illness rather than a doctor.
Another misconception is that epilepsy is a psychological problem.
People think that it is because of stress or failures in life.
So, when a young person has a seizure; let's suppose a 10 years old otherwise normal looking boy or a girl, the parents get genuinely concerned.
With the misconceptions that are prevalent in society, the first fear is that of a evil possession, magic or a serious psychological issue.
The other issue is that people try to hide this because they don't take it as a medical illness.
They don't want anyone to know that their son or daughter has epilepsy because this diagnosis has been stigmatized in society.
They may fear that they won't be able to marry off their children or they may not become a part of society or even accepted within their family or schools.
This is an example of general attitude towards epilepsy which is not only true for Pakistan but also for the developed world.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological illness or illness of the brain.
The communication or information exchange between different parts of the brain occurs thorough electric currents.
There are billions of wires that connect billions of neurons and make this fast and continuous communication possible.
If at any point in time there is a short circuit at some point then that particular part of the brain or sometimes the whole brain stops working temporarily.
This phenomenon is called an 'epileptic fit'.
Some of the patients may lose awareness during this time for 1 to 2 minutes.
They may not respond to the bystander’s commands.
After the fit is over, they regain their consciousness level in the same position and start communicating normally.
Sitting in a classroom, such patients may stop talking abruptly for a minute or so and then become normal as they were immediately once the fit is over.
Patient himself is not aware of this 1-2 minute pause which is obvious for the bystanders.
Such an event can be called as a minor epileptic fit.