Epilepsy: The Need to Educate, Research and Raise Society!
Since 2015, on the second Monday of February the International Day of Epilepsy is celebrated. A day that aims to educate and raise awareness in society about this neuronal pathology that around 50 million people suffer in the world.
Each year, the intention of the organizations that join this initiative is to improve the quality of life of people suffering from epilepsy through the development of better public policies, optimization of health services and the increase destined to research in the search for the development of new treatments.
If we take care of the situation in Spain in terms of diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of the patients, this is shown “complex and of course improvable,” Isabel Madrid Sánchez, president of the National Association of People explains in this interview with epilepsy (ANPE).
“We have to say that 80% of people with Epilepsy manage to control their seizures and lead a completely normal life, they can study, work, interact without any problem leading to healthy lifestyle habits such as taking care of sleeping hours since this can be a trigger for crisis, of course not to drink alcohol or drugs, ultimately lead an orderly life, ”he explains.
But we cannot forget the remaining 20%. People for whom “epilepsy is not controllable due to its origin or added comorbidities either due to the disease itself or other more complex pathologies that prevent those who suffer from it from having control of their life”, highlights indicating that, in these cases it usually be associated with “brain damage, genetic syndromes such as Dravet or Lennox Gastaut for example”. Two syndromes on which “much progress is being made as far as research is concerned”.
The interview progresses and we arrive at the diagnosis of the disease. In the words of the president of ANPE, “it is essentially clinical and relies on complementary initial tests such as EEG and neuroimaging to better characterize the syndrome.”
80% of people with epilepsy manage to control their seizures and lead a completely normal life. They can study, work, interact without any problem leading to healthy lifestyle habits.
“Until recently it was necessary that two episodes of unprovoked seizures occurred separated more than 24 hours from each other, but the latest recommendations lead us to conclude the diagnosis with a single crisis if basic complementary tests such as EEG and neuroimaging show symptoms or possible evidence that crises may recur. ”
ONE OF EVERY 10 PEOPLE WILL HAVE AN EPILEPTIC CRISIS
Recent studies have determined that, globally, one in 10 people will have an epileptic seizure throughout their lives. And, one in 100, will suffer epilepsy. Some data that make us focus on the symptoms and types of crisis.
“There are different types of seizures and each one manifests itself in a different way which in some cases leads to a late diagnosis since all epilepsy seizures” do not occur with seizures “, and in most cases they go unnoticed as the calls ‘absences’ or ‘petit mal’ which are usually associated with lack of attention, especially in children and adolescents ”.
Before this photograph it is vitally important to remember the need to educate society about epilepsy. From the ANPE they indicate that we have “biased information”. Problem that even extends to some patients and family members who, given this lack of information, “make mistakes that could be avoidable by providing training and information campaigns in collaboration with public administrations to eradicate false myths and achieve normalize the disease.”
“Collaborative work is essential especially in the educational area since children and adolescents spend many hours in schools and as I have said before, many epilepsy crises such as ‘absences’ are confused with other things that are not It gives them importance, ”he adds.
PEDIATRIC AND GERIATRIC AGE, RISK GROUPS
The most frequent times of its appearance are pediatric age (neurodevelopment) and geriatric age (neurodegeneration).
“In the case of children it is due to the lack of cerebral maturity since it is a brain in full development and the neurons must so to speak occupy their correct place to perform their function correctly. In some cases, premature births or due to complications during it can cause damage to the brain and be a reason for developing epilepsy. ”
“We make mistakes that could be avoidable by providing training and information campaigns in collaboration with public administrations to eradicate false myths and achieve normalization of the disease”
“In geriatric age, epilepsy is usually associated with the deterioration of brain cells due to aging, as is the case with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, let’s not forget that epilepsy is not a disease in itself but a symptom associated with multiple diseases” .
The president of ANPE stresses that “currently there are no prevention programs in themselves and the resources are usually after diagnosis informing as I have already commented on basic rules of healthy living avoiding certain habits that are harmful in all aspects. There are also informative talks that associations and professionals give in some educational centers but which is totally insufficient for the message to reach society ”.
In the case of geriatrics, “epilepsy is usually associated with deterioration due to the advanced age that mainly affects memory and executive functions. There are specialized centers in the neurorehabilitation of patients, mainly doing exercises at a cognitive level to prevent the deterioration from being even greater”.