Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy Myths Live On… | September 8, 2009


Just when you thought the modern world was becoming enlightened, there are still a whole lot of myths and fears about epilepsy — fueled by ignorance and misinformation. These fears might sound ridiculous to you…but they’re real for those who don’t know better.

Myth: Epilepsy is contagious. Fact: Epilepsy cannot be caught from contact with a person with epilepsy.

Myth: People with epilepsy cannot be employed.  Fact: Many people with epilepsy are successful in all types of professions. Even today, people with epilepsy often do not discuss their medical disorder with co-workers for fear of what others may think. Yet, epilepsy is generally not a condition that gets worse with time.

Myth: People with epilepsy are physically limited in what they can do. Fact: In most cases epilepsy is not a barrier to physical achievement. In some circumstances, when seizures are not being well controlled, persons with epilepsy may be advised to refrain from certain activities such as driving an automobile, working at heights or working with certain machinery.

Myth: Only kids get epilepsy.  Fact: Although epilepsy is more common in children and teens under age 15, epilepsy happens quite often to older adults, especially those with a history of stroke, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, more than 570,000 adults age 65 and above in the U.S. have the condition.

Myth: Epilepsy is rare and there aren’t many people who have itFact: Epilepsy in America is as common as breast cancer. There are more than twice as many people with epilepsy in the US as the number of people with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined. Epilepsy can occur as a single condition, or may accompany other conditions affecting the brain, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injury.

Myth: You should force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure so that they don’t swallow their tongue.  Fact: Never jam something into the mouth of a person having a seizure! It is impossible to swallow your tongue and by jamming something into a person’s mouth, you can cause trauma to the teeth and mouth and even cause them to suffocate.

Myth: Epilepsy is no longer a problem since there are medications to treat it.  Fact: More than three million Americans of all ages are living with epilepsy. Every year 200,000 Americans will develop seizures and epilepsy for the first time. Unfortunately, treatment does not prevent seizures for everyone. Researchers continue to look for new ways to combat this disorder.

Myth: You can’t die from epilepsy.  Fact: Epilepsy can become a life-threatening medical condition when seizures cannot be stopped. This year an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 will die of seizures and related causes. Patients with epilepsy have a mortality rate two to three times more than that of the general population, and their risk of sudden death is 24 times greater.

Research:

http://www.myoptumhealth.com.

http://www.epilepsysandiego.org/index.asp?f=myths

Copyright © 2009, Phylis Feiner Johnson. All rights reserved.


Posted in Epilepsy
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7 Comments »

  1. I’ve heard the myths from people and they can act like I’m an idiot because I seize or they may say why don’t I have someone with me 24/7.

    You find out who ur friends arewhen others see you have seizures or find out you have epilepsy.

    Belinda

    Comment by Belinda Brown — September 14, 2009 @ 8:18 PM

    • Well Belinda, you know…epileptics were long thought to be crazies. And so many
      people are uninformed or misinformed. That’s why I started my website. If
      you want to feel uplifted, read “The Epilepsy Hall of Fame” article.

      Thanks for responding!
      Phylis

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 14, 2009 @ 10:23 PM

  2. [...] afraid. They've heard all of these awful myths. Epilepsy Myths They're uninformed or misinformed http://epilepsytalk.com/2009/09/08/e…e-on%e2%80%a6/ And until we go out there and educate them, they'll remain that way. __________________ [...]

    Pingback by Prevalence of Epilepsy - so why public ignorance? - Epilepsy Forum — March 28, 2010 @ 10:04 PM

  3. I remember a mother telling me when her son bit her while he had a grand mal and she had stitches put in her hand. She had no idea on a way to handle a seizure she was informed by the EMT that you do not anything in the mouth during seizure activity. I have woken up and something was help me breath. I felt sorry for those people. I had a seizure in the hospital and gone into status and it was asthma season and was having trouble swallowing.

    Comment by Tonialpha — May 15, 2010 @ 1:43 AM

  4. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss! ;-) It can kill you.

    Stitches in the mother’s hand? That is completely pathetic.

    Glad you made it through your seizure in the hospital Tonialpha!

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 15, 2010 @ 10:44 PM

  5. [...] We could tell them our own story or Cheers for Charlie! Give them copies of the article The Stats and Facts of Epilepsy and/or Epilepsy Myths Live On… [...]

    Pingback by Epilepsy Awareness Brainstorm! « Epilepsy Talk — March 7, 2011 @ 6:22 PM

  6. [...] more myths, go to: http://epilepsytalk.com/2009/09/08/epilepsy-myths-live-on%E2%80%A6/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

    Pingback by Epilepsy Myths Live On… « epilepsyconnection — July 15, 2012 @ 1:19 PM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I've also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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