Every second Monday in February, International Epilepsy Day is commemorated with the aim of raising awareness and educating the public on
general about this disease, as well as alert about the urgent need to improve treatment, care and investment in research.
As with other brain diseases, fear and ignorance around epilepsy persist, causing many people to refuse to talk about it for fear of discrimination and lack of understanding from the community.
In this sense, Alfredo and Alejandro Thomson, neurologists who are members of the Cites Ineco Epilepsy Clinic and professionals from the Favaloro Foundation, distinguish 7 myths about this disease that affects more than 78 million people around the world, of all ages, sexes , races and income levels.
1. People with epilepsy cannot work normally
Most ECPs that maintain acceptable crisis control should be considered fit to perform all types of job duties, with the exception of a few specific ones. The activities that PCE should not carry out are few and among them are:
pilot or professional driver (plane, taxi, subway, train, bus, ambulance) or workers who must use firearms (police).
Special care must be taken in jobs that are carried out at heights, as well as industrial machinery operators and those in which young children are being cared for.
In recent years, jobs that require the use of computers or word processors have increased. For most ECPs, working in front of monitors is not a problem. There is a rare condition called photosensitive epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by flashes or flashing lights. Computers operate at a high enough frequency that there is no danger of precipitating crises.
2. People with epilepsy cannot perform physical activity or participate in individual or team sports
The PCE can carry out physical activity and practice sports of any kind, whether amateur or professional. It is advisable to take special care when swimming (avoid swimming in the absence of other people) and avoid diving.
3. People with epilepsy should not go to dance clubs, it is not recommended that they travel or have personal or sexual relationships
Going to nightclubs should not be prohibited, since it is part of the social life of adolescents and young people especially. Most of these establishments have lights that do not pose a danger to PCE. Those with photosensitive epilepsy should speak up
with your doctor on the particular subject. PCE can travel by any means of transport, and it is important to have a sufficient amount of medication before undertaking any trip, especially abroad where the trade names of drugs and their pharmaceutical presentation often vary. Epilepsy should not cause any alteration in the sexual sphere or in personal relationships.
4. Women with epilepsy cannot or should not have children The vast majority of women with epilepsy have uncomplicated pregnancies with normal deliveries and births of healthy children. Breastfeeding should not be stopped. The harms of not taking antiepileptic medication and the risks of having a seizure during pregnancy are greater than those associated with taking antiepileptic medication. It is very important for women with epilepsy to talk with their doctor about pregnancy planning, obstetric care and careful management of their epilepsy.
5. Marijuana can be used to treat epilepsy
Recent studies have shown that cannabis oil (CBD, cannabidiol) has therapeutic effects in some difficult-to-manage epilepsies, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Therefore, the use of CBD is currently authorized in the forms of epilepsy mentioned above, as long as it is under the supervision of the treating physician.
6. Whenever a person has an epileptic crisis, an ambulance must be called
If one knows that the person having the seizure has epilepsy, their seizure lasts no more than one to two minutes and recovery occurs within the usual time, it is not necessary to call the ambulance or activate the emergency system. If the crisis lasts five minutes or more and/or happens one after another without recovery between them, the ambulance should be called.
7. Epilepsy causes brain damage
Most crises do not cause damage to the brain, the alteration being a transient and reversible phenomenon. The risk of damage exists when crises are of long duration or occur repeatedly without recovery between them. This is a neurological emergency known as status epilepticus or status epilepticus.