The oldest detailed account of epilepsy is on a Babylonian tablet in the British Museum. This is a chapter from a Babylonian textbook of medicine comprising 40 tablets dating as far back as at least 2000 BC. The tablet accurately records many of the different seizure types we recognize today.
The Bible does mention Epilepsy in Mathew 17:14-20. Jesus ‘rebuked’ the demon and the boy was healed instantly.
The attitude people have towards epilepsy makes it difficult to manage it like other medical conditions. This is because they:
- Associate epilepsy with witchcraft.
- Hide their sick relatives and friends.
- Believe that epilepsy is contagious.
- Associate epilepsy with curses from their ancestors.
Management of epilepsy requires support from individual families and the community. This support is only possible when people change their attitude towards epilepsy and separate the myths from the truth.
What is Epilepsy?
The term epilepsy refers to a chronic condition in which an individual has recurrent fits (also called seizures or convulsions). These are caused by temporary disturbance in the brain activity which manifests in various ways leading to different types of epilepsy.
Who gets Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can start at any age in life and can affect anybody, you and me included. Some people have fits once or twice in a year. In yet others it could be a month or weeks.
How common is Epilepsy
It is estimated that almost one million Kenyans suffer from epilepsy, most are below 25 years of age.
How does one get epilepsy?
Causes of epilepsy are many, but the most common one are:-
- Injuries to the head, as may occur during road accidents, fights or birth. Diseases that may cause brain damage like chronic meningitis, cerebral malaria and measles.
- Diseases/infections during pregnancy that may cause damage to the developing baby’s brain.
- A foreign growth in the brain e.g. brain tumour
- Drugs like alcohol, bhang, cocaine, poisons like lead, mercury
- Some forms of epilepsy have not been attributed to any cause.
How can Epilepsy be controlled?
Epilepsy is a treatable condition; the aim of the treatment is to prevent seizures. The seizures can be controlled by taking the right medicine at the right time. In most people, the seizures can be completely controlled by taking the right medicine at the right time while in others it can be markedly reduced.
Taking the right medicine in the right amount at the right time is the most important factor in controlling seizures.