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Misinformation & Myths


There are many common myths and misconceptions about epilepsy which fuel misunderstanding about epilepsy.  Witnessing a seizure can be a frightening experience for someone who is unfamiliar with epilepsy. This "fear" dates back to ancient times and old concepts about epilepsy. Today, even though many people are affected by epilepsy, it is still a misunderstood condition and is often the source of social problems for children with epilepsy.  The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles focuses on increasing awareness and understanding about epilepsy.


Here are a few of the myths. Test yourself.
Confront the MYTHS in yourself and in others.
Get the FACTS. Share the facts with others.

MYTH:    Epilepsy is rare and not very many people have epilepsy.
FACT:    There are more than twice as many people with epilepsy in the USA than the combined number of people with cerebral palsy (500,000), muscular dystrophy (250,000), multiple sclerosis (350,000), and cystic fibrosis (30,000). Epilepsy can occur as a single condition or may accompany other conditions affecting the brain, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, Alzheimer's disease, and traumatic brain injury.

MYTH:    Epilepsy is contagious.
FACT:    You simply cannot catch epilepsy from another person.

MYTH:    Only kids get epilepsy.
FACT:    Epilepsy happens to people over age 65 almost as often as it does to children under 10 years of age. Seizures in the elderly are often the after-effect of other health problems like stroke and heart disease.

MYTH:    People with epilepsy are disabled and cannot work.
FACT:    People with epilepsy have the same range of abilities and intelligence as the rest of us. Some have severe seizures and cannot work; others are successful and productive in challenging careers.

MYTH:    You should force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure.
FACT:    Absolutely not! That's a good way to chip teeth, puncture gums, or even break someone's jaw. The correct first aid is simple. Just gently roll the person on one side and put something soft under the head to protect from injury.

MYTH:    You should restrain someone having a seizure.
FACT:    Never use restraint. The seizure will run its course and you cannot stop it.

MYTH:    With today's medications, epilepsy is largely a solved problem.
FACT:    There is no cure for the epilepsies. Epilepsy is a chronic medical problem that for many people can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, treatment does not work for everyone and there is a critical need for more research to treat and cure the epilepsies. color:black">

MYTH:    You cannot tell what a person might do during a seizure.
FACT:    Seizures commonly take a characteristic form and the individual will do much the same thing during each seizure episode. The behavior may be inappropriate for the time and place, but it is unlikely to cause directed harm to a bystander.

MYTH:    You cannot die from epilepsy.

FACT:    Epilepsy is a serious condition and individuals do die from seizures. Experts estimate that prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) are the cause of 22,000 to 42,000 deaths in the USA each year. In a major study of status epilepticus, 42% of deaths occurred in individuals with a history of epilepsy.



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