Epilepsy is one of the most frequent neurological diseases. It is affecting 65 million people all over the world and 500 thousand in Italy. Generally, it appears in childhood or in people over 60 years old. It is characterized by an anomaly in the operation of the electrical activity in the cerebral nervous system. The most typical symptom is the epileptic fit, that makes the patient space out temporarily or shakes them with violent convulsive fits.
Epilepsy is diagnosed as a disease after at least two epileptic fits.
Epilepsy is often wrongly compared to mental retardation, and epileptic patients often encounter prejudices among other people.
Thanks to the contribution of Professor Alberto Albanese, Supervisor of Neurology at Humanitas, we debunk some myths pertaining this disease.
Epilepsy is Visible: FALSE
In absence of a fit, epilepsy is not immediately recognizable. The majority of patients are not different from non-epileptic people, neither intellectually nor emotively. An epileptic child is not less intelligent than the other ones, and they are in no way dangerous.
Epileptic People Can’t work: FALSE
70% of epileptics can work just like other people. However, if the fits compromise the consciousness of patients, some precautions are needed. For example, patients with epilepsy should not work on scaffoldings or do night shifts, if sleep deprivation causes them an epileptic fit.
Epileptics Can’t Drive a car: FALSE
In order to drive a car, patients have to never have had an epileptic fit for a year. There are no restrictions on the ability to drive a car for patients with night-only fits, fits without loss of consciousness, or fits that are caused by issues in the nervous system that are not linked with an epileptic disease.
Epileptic Patients Can’t Travel by Plane: FALSE
This is only recommended for patients with frequent, difficult-to-manage fits who want to travel long distances by plane. In fact, the absence of adequate aid structures on the aeroplane may be a problem in case of necessity. Before boarding a plane, ask your doctor for advice.
Epileptics Can’t Watch the TV: FALSE
People who are extremely sensitive to visual stimuli may be prone to epileptic fits while watching the TV or playing videogames. In order to avoid this situation, you should not sit in front of a screen for a long time nor sit too close to the screen, and you should also take a break from time to time, light up the room, and reduce the brightness of the screen.