Epilepsy: Five Misconceptions

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A seizure can be a very scary and daunting experience for those experiencing one and, those treating assisting the patient.

Over the years many people have approached and managed seizures with the following common misconceptions about helping:

  1. Putting something in the child or adult’s mouth: Do not put any objects in the patient’s mouth as this may result in injuring the patient, as well as yourself. If there is something in their mouth the consequence may be them suffering from broken teeth or an injured jaw due to them clenching their jaw tight during a seizure.
  2. Putting something under the child or adults head: Do not place anything under the patients head as this may result in compromising their airways. You must be aware of this as their airways during a seizure can already be restricted (see above) and some seizures include violent movement and you want to ensure that you alleviate any chance of them rolling over and stiffening restricting their movement and blocking their airways.
  3. You should restrain someone during a seizure: You cannot restrain during any type of seizure as they will run their course, no matter what you use as a preventative measure during the episode.
  4. A seizure means the patient will convulse and become unconscious: If you are expecting the patient to convulse and become unconscious and you are waiting for these signs during a seizure, don’t! Not every seizure includes these symptoms, and many people in the past have made this common mistake resulting in seizures being unrecognized and mistreated at the time.
  5. All people with epilepsy are photosensitive: This is not true, although it is commonly known. Only around 3% of epilepsy suffers experience seizures during flashing, strobe or bright lighting. However oddly enough, you should always consider the lighting for any epileptic patient as photosensitive seizures are always a possibility even if they are not a current sufferer.

Please take time to read up below on the 6 most common types of seizures to help you properly understand the different types of epileptic episodes.

Absence Seizure: This seizure is generally more common in children than adults although can occur in older ages. People experience this type of seizure appear as nothing to those unaware of the patient’s medical history as they can still perform everyday tasks. Although, here are some noticeable signs that can assist you in recognizing the situation.

  • Staring into space
  • Lip smacking
  • Eyelid Fluttering
  • Chewing motions

 Tonic-clonic or convulsive seizures: There are two stages of this seizure, firstly the patient will experience loss of consciousness which can last anywhere from 10-20 seconds at a time. Secondly the muscle convulsions will commence that will usually last for less than 2 minutes.

Atonic Seizure: This type of seizure is also commonly known as drop-attacks. The only symptom is sudden loss of muscle strength. Causing the patient to be at risk of falling and further harm.

Clonic Seizure: During this seizure the main symptom is jerking of the muscles, please note these movements cannot be restrained.

Tonic Seizure: This seizure can happen during sleep and if it occurs while a person is awake they are at risk of falling and harming themselves. This type of seizure affects most of the brain, and during this episode the person will experience stiffness or tensing in the arms, legs or whole body. Their duration is usually no longer 20 seconds.

Myoclonic seizure: This seizure will present itself as shock like jerks to a particular part of the body; they are known as a short seizure. Note that during this episode the person will be awake and aware.

Note: There are many other types of seizures. As these are only considered those most common to occur.

Contact Epilepsy Action Australia for more information

Written by Alexandra Adele Ritchie

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