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Normal Life Possible With Epilepsy, Says Top Doctor

Epilepsy affects sexual development, menstrual cycle, aspects of contraception, fertility, and reproduction.

Published: 25th March 2016 05:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2016 07:45 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: World Epilepsy Day on March 26 highlights the importance of leading a normal life with the neurological disorder, that affects 70 million people worldwide. The problems associated with epilepsy are more severe for men than women. Being a woman with epilepsy is not the same as being a man with epilepsy, says Dr Thomas Iype, head of the Neurology Department, T’Puram Medical College.

Epilepsy affects sexual development, menstrual cycle, aspects of contraception, fertility, and reproduction. Yet, according to Dr Iype,  with anti-epileptic medication one can lead a normal and happy married life with the ability to achieve the highest success.  Women with epilepsy, however, continue to face misunderstanding about their conditions. As a result, they face discrimination in the society. The impact of the neurological disorder, epilepsy is on the minds of thousands of women and girls who are living with it. Those who want to get pregnant worry about a number of things related to pregnancy and motherhood, says Dr Iype.

Many women with epilepsy have children and lead a normal family life. Having epilepsy doesn’t usually make it hard for woman to get pregnant, says Dr Iype, who was chosen as the best doctor and teacher of the Medical College by staff, students and patients sometime ago.  "However, some women with epilepsy may have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is associated with irregular periods and weight gain, that can also affect reproductive health,” says Dr Iype.

The criteria for stopping or reducing the medication depends on the patient’s condition.

Of the 70 million persons with epilepsy (PWE) worldwide, nearly 12 million PWE are expected to reside in India.

General myths and facts about epilepsy in society

Myth 1: Epilepsy is the result of possession by evil spirits. The treatment is to exorcise such spirits through faith healers or alternative therapies.

Reality: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is treated with medication. The patient should be taken to a qualified doctor.

Myth 2: An epileptic attack can be stopped by making the patient smell an onion or branding with a hot needle or iron rod.

Reality: Such methods only cause more injury and do not help the patient.

Myth 3: If you touch a patient during a seizure, the disorder will pass to you.

Reality: Epilepsy is not contagious and does not spread by touch.

Myth 4: Epilepsy brings stigma to the family, so the patient should be hidden.

Reality: Epilepsy is a treatable disease just like diabetes or hypertension. There is no reason to hide an epileptic patient. Ensure that they get timely treatment and that they take their medication regularly.

Myth 5: It is a form of madness and the patient needs to be admitted in an asylum.

Reality: It is the disorder of brain function and should be treated by a neurologist.

Myth 6: People with epilepsy cannot marry nor have children.

Reality: As long as the patient takes his/her medication and does not hide the condition, there is no reason why he/she cannot marry or have children.

Myth 7: Children who have seizures should not be sent to school.

Reality: Most children who have epilepsy are intelligent. In some cases, there may be some co-existent retardation but that is due to an abnormality in the brain. Again, as long as the child takes the medication regularly, he/she can go to school.

Myth 8: Wearing a metal ring, talisman or offering animal sacrifices will prevent seizures.

Reality: Nothing can prevent seizures except anti-epileptic medication.

Stay calm

  • Do take your medicines at the prescribed times                                                                 
  • Do follow a balanced diet
  • Do make it known to your family members, friends and people who work with you that you are seizure-prone. Tell them what should be done in case you get an attack in their presence
  • Do keep an accurate record of your seizures and their frequency. Preferably, maintain a seizure diary, which is provided in this epilepsy kit
  • Do have good lighting in the room where you watch TV. TV picture flashes can trigger seizures. Good lighting can prevent such attacks
  • Do talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of using contraceptive pills along with your epilepsy medicines
  • Do tell your doctor about any ill effects that you experience
  • Do get a good night’s sleep daily
  • Do make sure you have enough medicine so that you don’t run short, even when you are travelling
  • Do check-in with your doctor regularly


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