Despite the fact that epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disorder, the general public is not very well informed about the disorder. In one survey of US adults, only 19% of people said that epilepsy was a brain disorder. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about epilepsy and what it entails.
1) Someone having a seizure can swallow their tongue.
Swallowing your tongue is virtually impossible, even during a seizure. This is because the frenulum linguae, a piece of tissue, keeps the tongue in place at all times. Many people think that if someone is having a seizure, they should put something in the person’s mouth to prevent that person from swallowing their tongue. In fact, 59% of people who said that they know what to do when a person has a seizure said that they would put something in the person’s mouth. This is something that you should never do! It can end up cutting or injuring the person’s gums or teeth. Puting something in the person’s mouth can also cause them to start choking.
2) Most seizures are triggered by bright lights.
For people with photosensitive epilepsy, exposure to bright or flashing lights at certain intensities or patterns can trigger seizures. However, only about 3% of epilepsy patients have photosensitive epilepsy and will be affected by lights.
3) If someone has a seizure, they have epilepsy.
Again, this is simply false! While the most common cause of seizures is epilepsy, there are many causes of seizures. These include stroke, head trauma, low blood sodium levels, low blood sugar levels, high fever, and alcohol abuse.
4) If someone is having a seizure, they will shake.
While this is possible, there are more than 40 types of seizures. Not all of these involve convulsions (shaking). Seizures can be minor and easy to miss. An example of this is an absence seizure, which lasts for only a few seconds and involves a lapse in awareness or consciousness.
5) Epilepsy is pretty rare.
Epilepsy is more common than most people think. 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. Additionally, there are at least 3.4 million people in the US living with epilepsy.
6) Epilepsy is mostly a solved problem.
For some people, medicine is effective but even then, it often involves many side effects. Because of the numerous types of epilepsy and their symptoms, there is still the need for more research and the development of new methods of treatment.
Note: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.