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Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
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Epilepsy: Persons in seizure can choke on drugs, concoctions

•R-L: Director Registration and Regulation, Mrs. Monica Eimuneze  with Director General NAFDAC  Dr. Paul Orhii,  NAAFDAC Director, Laboratory Services, Mrs. Stella Denloye and Deputy Director, Registration, NAFDAC Mrs. Alabi Ololade, during  NAFDAC workshop on Guidelines and Guidance document for the Registration of Biosimilars in Nigeria held in Lagos on Monday. This article was prompted by three stories. A man came off an Okada bike in Lagos. He then started having a seizure where upon some people got sticks and stones and started beating him up because, according to them, he must have offended the gods.

Secondly,  a chap who is suffering from epilepsy has been drinking cows’ urine for years. He still has epilepsy but, perhaps now also, has a damaged kidney.

Finally, a mother whose child had a convulsion was asked by ‘well meaning neighbours’ to give her own urine to the baby as a cure for the convulsion.

Although, these may be the perception of many to epilepsy and reaction, experts has cautioned Nigerians to ensure that anyone who experiences seizure does not injure himself/herself during the period of loss of consciousness.

Speaking on steps to ensure the safety of persons living with epilepsy, a Consultant Neurologist  with Cedacrest Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Biodun Ogungbo said objects that can harm the person should be moved out of the way. “If possible, place a pillow under the person’s head so that the head does not bang against the floor, causing injury.”

He urged anyone who witnesses a seizure to be calm and try not to panic. His words, “Let the seizure run its course and do not hold them down. If possible, move them to a comfortable place and let them sleep or at least, have a good rest once the seizure is over. Please check to make sure they are breathing well.”

Epilepsy is ‘repeated seizures or convulsions (or fits) due to a brain problem’. Epilepsy is a manifestation of a problem with the brain. It is due to something irritating the brain. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells and connections. The normal brain is constantly producing electrical rhythms in an orderly way.

However, a short circuiting of the wiring (nerves) can lead to overloading of the brain, causing it to stop functioning correctly and everything becomes jumbled up. This misfiring can last a few seconds or be prolonged and is called a convulsion, seizure or fit.

However, the consultant neurologist advised that nothing, no liquid or medication should be poured into the mouth of someone having a convulsion, not even tablets. “Since, they may be unconscious; they can choke on drugs and concoctions. Urine, whether from a mother or a cow is also not the treatment for epilepsy! Also, please, do not burn someone having epilepsy with fire as treatment. This can damage them for life,” he said.
What types of people have seizures?

Anyone can have a seizure. It is something that is happening to the brain of the person and can be caused by many things. It can happen to the rich, poor, educated or illiterate and people of all ages. It happens in all countries in the world and affects white, yellow, red and black people. It is no more common here in Nigeria than anywhere else in the World.

Treatment options
Epilepsy can be treated, controlled and rarely, cured. Epilepsy can be well controlled by medications. There are up to 20 different types of drugs used to treat epilepsy. The doctor needs to find the perfect drug for the patient and then prescribe it based on the age and weight to get optimum control of the seizures.

 Myths and misconceptions about epilepsy?

Many people think that epilepsy is due to a spiritual attack and that the demon must be cast out of the patient. This is incorrect.

Some say that epilepsy is contagious and can spread from one person to another. This is also not correct.  

Epilepsy is also not a mental illness. Seizures are mainly a symptom that there is a physical problem, like a scar, on the brain. Some people with epilepsy are extremely clever, others are of average intelligence and some have learning difficulties.

Epilepsy is not a bar to success in life. Many people with epilepsy enjoy highly successful lives. The problem is often other people who put them down.

Epilepsy is not generally an inherited condition. Although, there can be a genetic predisposition, more often than not, there is no family history of epilepsy.

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