Epilepsy is one of the most frequent neurological diseases, with 65 million cases worldwide, of which five hundred thousand in Italy. The onset usually occurs in early childhood or after sixty years and the disease is characterized by an abnormality in the functioning of the electrical activity of the brain nervous system. The most striking manifestation is the epileptic seizure, which can occur with a temporary absence of the patient, who appears lost in emptiness, or with violent convulsive seizures. Epilepsy is referred to as a disease after at least two epileptic seizures.
Epilepsy is often wrongly equated with mental retardation and epileptic patients are often prejudiced by public opinion.
Thanks to the contribution of Professor Alberto Albanese, Head of Neurology at Humanitas, we try to dismantle the false myths that circulate around this disease.
Epilepsy can be observed – False
Epilepsy is not immediately recognizable in the absence of a seizure. Most patients do not differ from non-epileptic subjects, neither from an intellectual nor from an emotional and affective point of view. An epileptic child is no less intelligent than others and is in no way dangerous.
Epilepsy sufferers cannot work – False
70% of the epileptic subjects can work exactly like the others. It is good, for example, that patients with epilepsy do not work on scaffolding or do not work shifts at night if sleep deprivation is one of the causes of crises.
Epilepsy sufferers cannot drive – False
To be able to drive you need not have epileptic seizures for a year. Moreover, there are no restrictions on driving in the case of patients with only nocturnal crises, with crises not accompanied by loss of consciousness or caused by acute events affecting the nervous system without a tendency to represent an epileptic disease.
Epilepsy sufferers cannot travel by air – False
The precaution applies only to patients with high frequency and difficult to control crises that need to travel long distances by air: the lack of adequate rescue facilities in case of need could be a problem. You should consult your doctor before travelling by air.
Epilepsy sufferers cannot watch TV – False
In some cases of strong susceptibility to visual stimuli, epileptic seizures may occur in front of TV or video games. To prevent them, do not spend long periods in front of the screen and take breaks; illuminate the room and avoid shadows; do not sit too close to the screen and reduce the brightness of the screen.