Moving on, staying strong – despite being epileptic

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Dr. dr. Suryani Gunadharma, Sp.S(K), M.Kes.
Dr. dr. Suryani Gunadharma, Sp.S(K), M.Kes. Photo: EPILEPSYCONGRESS

Jakarta, IO – Epilepsy refers to an abnormality in the central nervous system caused by excess electrical activity in the brain. It causes sufferers to undergo repeated attacks or seizures on part of or all over their bodies. A person is said to be suffering from epilepsy if they suffer more than a single attack without any clear causes. 

“To repeat: ‘epilepsy’ is when the patient suffers from repeated attacks, without any provocation from a fever or from a burst in the brain’s blood vessels. It doesn’t have to be a seizure or spasm – the patient may simply blank out or stare emptily, smack their lips, or suffer a sense of dejà vu, like ‘having been there and done that before’. When you see a person suffering from an epileptic attack, loosen their clothing and don’t crowd them, because they will need space to breathe,” suggested Dr. dr. Suryani Gunadharma, Sp.S(K), M.Kes, neurology specialist of Hasan Sadikin Hospital Bandung, in the “Purple Day 2022: Moving On and Remaining Strong Despite Epilepsy” talk show held on Monday (28/3/2022). 

Unfortunately, epilepsy is a myth-riddled illness. Some of the most-often cited beliefs are that it is a psychological problem, it is contagious through saliva, or that epilepsy patients must never marry, for fear of their children inheriting the condition. 

“Possibility of genetic inheritance in epilepsy is extremely small, only 3%-5%. There is nothing that should prevent an epileptic patient from having a family because of fear of increasing the risk of epilepsy in their children. Actual risk factors in clude troublesome births, infectious diseases like meningitis and encephalitis, prolonged fevers, bumps to the head, brain tumors, or a stroke,” dr. Suryani said. 

Peak Periods 

Epilepsy has cycles of peak periods, which occur during childhood and old age. “A lot of child epilepsy patients stop showing symptoms as they grow into adolescents. However, handling during the first attack is very important. When they suffer an epileptic attack, a patient must immediately be taken to see a doctor in order to get proper treatment. Otherwise, there is a risk of more severe brain damage. It is important that epileptic patients routinely take their medication, as it helps to control symptoms in more than 70% of patients,” dr. Suryani said. 

Finally, please do not banish epilepsy patients. “This will only trigger more stress, which will affect their brains and nerves, which is making it more likely for them to suffer epileptic attacks. Family support means more than you think – over the years, many epileptic patients went on to have children, earn Master’s degrees, and enjoy an overall excellent quality of life.” (est)