November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM). Sharing your story and supporting others are powerful ways to advocate for awareness and a cure. With more voices, we can bring hope to those facing the disease. Learn about other ways to show your support of the epilepsy community now.
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month
November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Formally recognized by Congress since 2003, the Epilepsy Foundation has long since promoted its importance to bring awareness to the incurable disease.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. This disorder can affect people very differently. The severity and frequency of a person’s seizures generally determine the overall impact on their life.
While some common causes of epilepsy include strokes, brain tumors, infections, and traumatic brain injuries, about 70% of cases have no known cause.
Because the causes of epilepsy are often unknown, it can be very difficult to treat. Therefore, living with epilepsy can be challenging for patients.
Doing your part to increase awareness helps bring hope to epilepsy patients. It also helps to spread the word on the serious condition, which can ultimately improve diagnosing and treating it. Epilepsy research funds are 10 times less than funds for other brain disorders. This makes the awareness month all the more important.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month is also a great opportunity to educate yourself and others about the condition to benefit the epilepsy community as a whole.
Quick Facts About Epilepsy:
- 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy during their lifetime
- 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy
- 470,000 children in the United States have epilepsy
- 150,000 people are diagnosed per year
- An epilepsy diagnosis is usually made when a person has had 2 or more seizures
- Seizures can look very different, ranging from staring spells to collapsing
- Seizures range in duration from a few seconds to a few minutes
For some people, other medical conditions accompany epilepsy. For example, a study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 42% of children with cerebral palsy also had epilepsy.
Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy
Epilepsy is often associated with cerebral palsy since it is caused by brain trauma. Birth injuries can increase abnormal brain activity, and seizures become more likely.
Children with hemiplegia and quadriplegia are at the highest risk for co-occurring cerebral palsy. Epilepsy treatments include medication, surgery, special diets, assistive devices, and electrical devices to manage their symptoms.
During National Epilepsy Awareness Month, families of cerebral palsy patients who also have epilepsy are encouraged to share their stories. Showing solidarity with the larger epilepsy community is a vastly powerful way to strengthen both groups.
When family, friends, and caregivers of cerebral palsy patients who also suffer from epilepsy share their stories, they create a sense of understanding among larger communities.
The Importance of Seizure Preparedness
If one of your loved ones has epilepsy or if you want to be prepared for a seizure in general, you can become educated with first aid tips to assist with an epileptic seizure emergency.
Here are some important do’s and don'ts when someone has a seizure:
- Stay calm. Seizures are common and usually only last a few minutes
- Stay with the person until the seizure is over
- Put something soft under their head
- Turn the person on their side to keep airways clear
- Make sure onlookers stay calm and stay off to the side
- Check to see if the person has any type of emergency information on them, such as a medical bracelet
- When the seizure is over, help the person to a safe place to talk
- Comfort them by calmly explaining what just happened
- Ask if they know their name
- Offer to call a loved one or a taxi to get them home safely
- Call 911 if the seizure lasts 5 minutes or more, if they are pregnant, or if they have more than one seizure.
- Don’t hold the person down
- Don’t try to stop their movements
- Don’t put anything in their mouth — they cannot swallow their tongue
- Don’t attempt mouth-to-mouth — they will usually start breathing again on their own
- Don’t try to give them food or water until they are fully alert
Since about 1 in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime, you may need to help someone someday. Understanding the importance of seizure preparedness and learning what you can do is the best way to help during what are scary situations for all involved.
How to Show Your Support
Help the epilepsy community during National Epilepsy Awareness Month and beyond. Sharing your personal story is a very impactful way to help.
“The focus of this campaign is to break the silence surrounding epilepsy and bring awareness so that people with epilepsy feel safer in their communities.”
— Laura Thrall, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation
Here are some other ways you can show your support:
- Advocate by reaching out to local or national government officials
- Donate or raise funds for epilepsy research
- Follow the Epilepsy Foundation on social media
- Share your story on social media using the 2021 hashtags in your posts: #NEAM2021, #RemoveTheFilter, #SeizureFirstAid
- Register for an epilepsy walk
The importance of raising epilepsy awareness can not be stressed enough. Even the smallest of efforts is huge in the overall fight for victims and their families.