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Frequently Asked Questions On Epilepsy

INCIDENCE:

Q: How common is epilepsy in the general population?

A: It is estimated that the overall “incidence” of epilepsy (number of new cases observed over a fixed period of time) lies between 20 - 50 cases per year per 100,000 persons in a general population. The usual “prevalence” rate (number of persons with epilepsy during a specified time) is 500-1000 cases per 100,000 persons in the population. Going by these statistics, there will be about 2,600 – 6,500 new cases of epilepsy every year in Delhi and New Delhi alone (estimated population of 1.3 crores) and 200,000 to 500,000 new cases in the whole of India (estimated population about 100 crores). Similarly at the present time there may be approximately 65,000-130,000  persons with epilepsy in Delhi/New Delhi and about 50-100 lakhs in whole of India respectively.

The following practical points need to be remembered:

  1. One in 20 people will have an epileptic seizure at some point in their lives.
  2. One in 100-200 people in a general population has epilepsy at any given time.
  3. About 50–70% patients will develop epilepsy (have their first seizure) before the age of 18 years.
EPILEPSY IS CLEARLY, THEREFORE, A MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM.
Next» TYPES & CAUSES

Myths & Facts

Myth
Epilepsy is due to the effect of "evil spirits" or "supernatural powers". It is also a form of "madness". So, epilepsy should be treated by faith-healers, sorcerers (witch-craft) or in a
lunatic asylum.

Fact
Epilepsy is a disease of the brain. Hence, epilepsy should be treated by neurologists, epileptologists, physicians and paediatricians.


Myth
One should never touch a patient having a seizure in order to avoid the disease being passed on to you.

Fact
If a patient is having a seizure, he/she needs your help and care. Epilepsy cannot be passed on to others by touching the patient.


Myth
An epileptic seizure can be terminated by putting a key in the patient's hand or by making a patient smell onions or a dirty shoe.

Fact
None of these non-medical measures are of any use. Family members and teachers should be made aware of first-aid measures required during a seizure.


Myth
Children with epilepsy are dull and cannot learn. They should not be sent to school.

Fact
Children with epilepsy can be extremely intelligent. It is usually ignorance about various aspects of epilepsy that prevents parents from sending their children to school. Many times the teachers also have misconceptions and do not encourage children with epilepsy to attend school.


Myth
Treatment for epilepsy with modern medicines is ineffective and expensive.

Fact
"Seizures" or "fits" that occur in epilepsy can be completely controlled by using a single, inexpensive medicine in 60-70% patients. Another 15-20% patients can be helped by the use of new, but slightly expensive drugs. A few cases can be successfully treated with surgery. Epilepsy can even be cured in some cases.
The Brain

No Seizures & No Fits