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Epilepsy can start any age but is more common in children and in elderly people after 60 years of age. Even patients with birth defects can develop epilepsy at a later age.
Brain injuries at the time of child birth, brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, neurocysticercosis and tuberculosis and strokes are some of the common causes of epilepsy in our country.
One cannot prevent all types of epilepsy but can take precautions to prevent certain conditions which can cause epilepsy. One should ensure proper prenatal and perinatal care to prevent birth injuries, proper immunization to prevent infections like meningitis, regular and healthy life style with avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol, and proper treatment of hypertension and diabetes to prevent strokes.
In a majority of cases, epilepsy is not hereditary. Only certain types of epilepsies, usually less than 5% of cases, are hereditary.
One should try to be as normal as possible with the child without being overprotective. One should patiently explain the child about the nature of illness and the minor restrictions. Give medicines regularly to child, ensure regular and proper sleep, and take the child for safe outdoor activities. Talk to the teacher about the nature of illness and be patient with child while teaching.
Majority of the medicines are safe and do not produce any long-term side effects or damage to body organs. Most of the medicines produce short term side effects if doses are very high or medicines are too many. These can be managed by simplifying the treatment regimen by reducing the doses or number of medicines.
Epilepsy surgery is considered in those cases where seizures cannot be controlled by medicines. If your seizures are not controlled with proper doses of one or at the most two medicines, then you should consider the option of epilepsy surgery and discuss with it your treating neurologist. Please note that surgery is usually not considered if your seizures are well controlled with medicines.
In properly selected patients, seizures may be completely stopped in 50-80% of patients with epilepsy surgery. After 2-3 years of surgery, medicines can also be stopped in 30-50% of patients. Epilepsy surgery is safe and complication rate is less than 1% which is similar to any brain or other organ surgery.
t is true that some medicines can cause problems to the child if they are taken during pregnancy. However, this occurs in less than 5% of pregnancies and most of pregnancies in women with epilepsy result in delivery of healthy normal children. The risk is increased with more number of medicines and higher doses. Hence the proper treatment with minimal medicines and doses should be planned before planning the pregnancy. Regular intake of folic acid during pregnancy also helps to reduce the risk to the child.
Although disclosing can have some problems, it is always better to disclose about epilepsy before marriage to avoid any future troubles. Be confident and honest while sharing information about your disease. In our country, it is also important for the women to be employed so that she is financially independent and can make independent decisions.

Majority (>95%) of seizures are self limiting and stop within 1-2 minutes. During a fit, one should take following first-aid precautions:

  • Do not over react to a seizure event. Be calm and give assurance to people around
  • Keep the person on one side to allow the secretions from the mouth to flow out.
  • Remove any object in the surroundings that may hurt the patient.
  • Do not put any hard object in the mouth or hands.
  • Loosen tight clothing and remove spectacles.
  • Do not give anything to eat or drink till the patient regain full consciousness
  • Arrange for a medical care if a seizure last for more than 5 minutes or there are recurrent seizures and patient is not regaining consciousness in between the seizures
  • Take your medication regularly as advised by your doctor
  • Identify your seizure triggers and try to avoid them
  • Follow regular sleep pattern and avoid sleep deprivation
  • Maintain regular food habits and avoid fasting.
  • Avoid undue stress, alcoholism, smoking and weight gain.
  • Develop a positive mental attitude, be active, and be happy as much possible.
Depression and other psychiatric problems are common in people with epilepsy. Discuss the problems with your neurologist who will guide you about further treatment. Majority of these problems can be very well treated with counseling and medicines. Have positive altitude about life and consider epilepsy as only one aspect of your life.
Because of the intermittent nature of seizures, epilepsy can restrict some activities like driving and active socializing. However, epilepsy can be very well controlled in more than 70% of patients with proper treatment. These people can lead completely normal life without any restrictions. Even people who have uncontrolled epilepsy can lead normal life with minor restrictions.
Attention deficits and hyperactivity are common in children with epilepsy. This can be managed by behavioral therapy and in some cases with medicines. It may require help from a child psychologist, speech therapist and an occupational therapist. You can also discuss the need for special schooling if your child is not able to cope with regular school.
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