Epilepsy is a common condition in our society and can commence at any age, regardless of ethnic group or gender. About 3–4% of the Australians will develop epilepsy at some stage in their life.
Once it was believed that epilepsy was a disorder of the young, since most people experienced their first seizure before the age of 20. However, people over 55 are now recognised as being the most vulnerable as this rapiidly growing demographic group is subject to the kinds of cerebrovascular (circulation of blood to the brain), respiratory and cardiac events that can precipitate an epileptic seizure.
There are numerous causes of epilepsy, which vary with the age at which seizures begin and the nature of the seizures. However, in 50% of cases, the cause is unknown.
In many cases of epilepsy in young children, genetics play an important role. Now research has shown that genetics can be a factor in developing epilepsy at any age and certain people are more susceptible to having seizures than others. These people are described as having a ‘low-seizure threshold.’
It is more likely for people to develop epilepsy if there is a history of seizures in the family. Epilepsy affects about 65 million people worldwide (greater than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease combined).
Many people do not understand exactly what epilepsy means. To say a person has epilepsy simply means that they have shown a tendency to have recurring seizures. So, when a person has a single seizure this does not necessarily mean that they have epilepsy. Some 10% of the population are at risk of experiencing a seizure during their lifetime, while 3–4% will go on to be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a disorder of brain function that takes the form of recurring convulsive or non-convulsive seizures. Epilepsy is not just one condition; rather it is a diverse family of disorders comprising many different types of seizures.
About 50% of people who have one seizure go on to have more seizures. For people at risk of recurring seizures, approximately 70% can expect seizure control with medicine.
There are seizures that are not epileptic such as those that result from diabetes, kinked blood vessels, and a range of other health conditions.
Purple Day, an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide was founded in 2008 and celebrated on March 26 is symbolized by the lavender flower. The lavender flower is often associated with solitude, which is representative of the feelings of isolation many people affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders may feel.
Here at Giant Chemist Harbour Town, we can help too. One of the key aspects to managing epilepsy is medicine management. Our Pharmacists are medicines experts and can assist you with understanding how your medicines work and any possible side effects.
You may obtain more detailed information on epilepsy from our Self Care Fact Card entitled Epilepsy, available from our dispensary.