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Epilepsy is known to be a potentially disabling, chronic and socially isolating condition. A diagnosis of Epilepsy even now still carries a stigma.

Thus appropriate diagnosis of epilepsy and management are essential to help in reducing the considerable social impact, potentially stigmatisation, secondary disability and low self-esteem compounded by social exclusion experienced by people with intellectual disabilities.

Epilepsy is the experience of recurrent unprovoked seizures.

What is a seizure?

Seizures occur when there is abnormal excessive electrical discharge from the brain resulting in a sudden disturbed behaviour, emotional, motor or sensory function with or without changes in consciousness.


Type of seizures

Generalised or Grand Mal seizures

These seizures affect the entire brain and consciousness is always impaired or lost.  During these seizures convulsions may also occur.  Common effects of these seizures are:

  • Person may stop breathing, turn pale or blue
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • No control of movement, speech or action
  • Following seizure sleep or temporary confusion might occur

Partial seizures (complex and simple)

The complex partial seizures affect a large area of the brain and affects consciousness whilst the simple partial seizures consciousness is decreased but not lost.

Common effect of Complex Partial Seizures are:

  • Dazed state
  • Drooling and purposeless behaviour
  • Wandering
  • No control of movement, speech or actions

Common effect of Simple Partial Seizures are:

  • Eye movements or shifting of facial features
  • Shaking of hand or foot
  • Sudden nausea
  • Sweating, flushing or becoming pale
  • Person may become emotional

How do you recognise a seizure?

Some seizure are easily to recognize whilst others a bit less.   Generally if a person is unable to respond they are likely having a seizure.  Sometimes prior to a seizure, the person experience an “Aura”.  This is a partial seizure which takes the form of a particular sensation that preceded the onset of a generalised seizure.  This may translate in a visual, taste or auditory experience.

When to seek medical intervention?

  • If it’s a first time occurence
  • If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes unless otherwise indicated by healthcare professional
  • If significant bodily harm occurs

What can trigger a seizure?

  • Stress or emotional upset
  • Physical illness or infection
  • Temperature changes
  • Photosensitivity

What should you do if someone is experiencing a seizure?

  • Remain calm
  • Protect head by removing glasses or sharp objects
  • Loosen clothing around neck
  • Turn persons on the side to protect airway
  • Never place anything in mouth
  • Track time
  • Speak calmly
  • Never leave the person’s side

Following a seizure the person needs to be reassured and would require rest since it’s a very tiring physical and mental experience.

If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes; have repeated seizures or the person has problems in breathing or got hurt emergency should be called.



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