“I’m not handicapped.” “I have a unique ability!” is something we’ve all read on motivational posters, and it’s important to understand that having a disability does not imply inferiority to people who do not have one.
The fourth most prevalent neurological ailment and one of the oldest known medical conditions is epilepsy, often known as a seizure disorder. The disorder causes electrical activity in the brain to halt for a brief period, resulting in repeated seizures. Although 65 million individuals worldwide suffer from epilepsy, the disease is widely stigmatized. International Epilepsy Day exists to educate the general public about epilepsy and to teach people how to better care for those who suffer from the illness.
The WHO, the UN, and various other countries observe the day. On this day, UN members raised awareness about the disease. The International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) have collaborated to create the Day.
The major problem with epilepsy is that it is a disease of the shadows. Patients are frequently hesitant to confess their illness, even to close relatives, friends, or coworkers, and when people with epilepsy are unwilling to disclose their disease, the general public is unaware of ita tragic irony that has made patient treatment and garnering funds for research difficult.
Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide. Eighty percent of them live in poor and middle-income nations. These countries lack the resources to focus on the condition and raise awareness. Epilepsy affects between four and ten thousand people. In high-income countries, epilepsy affects 49 out of every 100,000 people.
The Importance of the 2023 Theme
Epilepsy patients face stigma and discrimination. As a result, it is critical to raise awareness about the disease and its treatment.
Epilepsy is More than Seizures
Even though epilepsy is one of the oldest known medical illnesses, public fear and confusion about it continue, making many people unwilling to discuss it. This aversion results in lives lived in the shadows, a lack of information concerning individual risk, discrimination in companies and communities, and a lack of financing for research into novel cures.
When compared to the general population, those with epilepsy die at a higher rate. SUDEP, or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, is the leading cause of death from epilepsy. Misconceptions and discrimination might be more difficult to overcome for many individuals who suffer from epilepsy than the episodes themselves.
Fighting Epilepsy Stigma
Though science and medicine have done much to assist people to manage their epilepsy, the illness is just half the struggle.
Some people still don’t comprehend it, and some employers even discriminate against employees who have it. There are still pockets of people who perpetuate unjustified stigma. Today, more than two-thirds of epilepsy patients successfully control their condition with medication. The remaining one-third may also require surgery or brain stimulation therapies to reduce their seizures. The most prevalent age group for newly diagnosed epilepsy is 60 years and older.
Epilepsy can occur at any age, but it is more common as you get older. This can be related to a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, tumors, or other medical disorders that affect the brain.
Stigma can make an epileptic feel humiliated, unhappy, or avoid social situations. It may even deter people from obtaining necessary treatment.
It is critical that we as a culture do not label the epileptic community as ‘disabled’ and instead accept them for who they are.
Through education and awareness efforts such as International Epilepsy Day in February and National Epilepsy Awareness Month in November, let’s aim to lessen the stigma.
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