Last September 1-6, 2014, the Philippine League Against Epilepsy (PLAE) celebrated the National Epilepsy Awareness Week with the theme: “EPILEPSY: TIGIL ATAKE… TULAY SA TAGUMPAY.”
This year, the week started with a TRIPARTITE SYMPOSIUM FOR NEUROLOGISTS: MARIJUANA IN EPILEPSY held at SULO HOTEL on September 1. The top neurologists of the country held this forum to discuss the emerging issues on medical marijuana and to come out with a consensus on its role in the management of epilepsy in the Philippines.
The following day, September 2, the Epilepsy Exemplar Awards was held at the Crowne Plaza. The awards night aims to recognize people with epilepsy who have gone beyond their disease and have excelled in either their profession or in school.
The highlight of this week’s activities is the National Epilepsy Week Camp that was held at the Queen Margarette Hotel in Lucena City, Quezon. It was a whole-day affair where delegates were given lectures on epilepsy. There were also small group discussions that gave patients a venue to clarify issues that confront them in dealing with the disease.
Apart from the above activities, members of PLAE held nationwide simultaneous round table discussions, lay fora, and school caravans in their area of practice during the duration of the epilepsy week.
It is the hope of this campaign to spread awareness about the condition called epilepsy, to prevent it or its related incidents, to dispel myths about it, and to give sufferers a better quality of life. And this blog is part of the information campaign. I strongly support this endeavor to create awareness among Filipinos about epilepsy.
WHAT IS EPILEPSY?
Epilepsy (from the Ancient Greek verb ἐπιλαμβάνειν meaning “to seize, possess, or afflict”) “is a group of neurological disorder characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur, and have no immediate underlying cause while seizures that occur due to a specific cause are not deemed to represent epilepsy.
CAUSES OF EPILEPSY
The cause of most cases of epilepsy is unknown. But some people do develop epilepsy as the result of “brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, and drug and alcohol misuse. Genetic mutations are linked to a small proportion of the disease.” Meanwhile, epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal cortical nerve cell activity in the brain. The diagnosis typically involves ruling out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms such as syncope. Additionally it involves determining if any other cause of seizures are present such as alcohol withdrawal or electrolyte problems. This may be done by doing imaging of the brain and blood tests. Epilepsy can often be confirmed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) but a normal test does not rule out the disease. Source: wikipedia
THE IMPACT OF EPILEPSY (FACTS AND FIGURES)
Epilepsy is present in around 1% of the world’s population but this figure is believed to be higher in developing countries. This means that in a country like the the Philippines with a population of 93 million, an estimated 930,000 people suffer from epilepsy. But in a local prevalence study, it was reported that 230 persons have epilepsy / 100,000 population.
Commonly, epilepsy strikes among the very young and the very old, but anyone can get it at any age. The mortality rate among people with epilepsy is two-three times higher than the general population and the risk of sudden death is 24 times greater.
People with epilepsy can die of seizures and related causes or injuries, including status epilepticus or non-stop seizures, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), drowning, and other accidents. About
20 to 30% of patients with epilepsy are severely affected and continue to have seizures despite treatment.
Of all the major chronic medical conditions, epilepsy is among the least understood even though one in three adults know someone with the disorder. The lack of knowledge about proper first aid remedies for seizure exposes affected individuals to injury from unnecessary restraint and from objects needlessly forced into the mouth, which is really sad. Also, the leading non-medical problem confronting people with epilepsy is discrimination in education, employment, and social acceptance.
There is no wonder that the association between epilepsy and depression is especially strong. More than one of every three people with epilepsy are also affected by the mood disorder while people with a history of depression have a three to seven times higher risk of developing epilepsy.
From studies conducted abroad, depression is reported by 24-74% of patients with epilepsy while anxiety in 10-25%. Around 64% of people with epilepsy in the Philippines suffer from anxiety and 51% from depression.
Living with epilepsy presents challenges affecting many aspects of life, including relationships with family and friends, school, employment and leisure activities. The best tool for managing it is education so that the patient and his or her loved ones can make informed decisions based on the situation when seizures strike.