Sort the Myths from the Facts this #EpilepsyDay

- As many myths as there are seizures -

- Epilepsy Ireland seeks to highlight misconceptions surrounding condition as part of International Epilepsy Day Campaign -

Monday February 10th is International Epilepsy Day (#epilepsyday) and as part of a new awareness campaign, Epilepsy Ireland is urging the public to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to perceptions of epilepsy.

Epilepsy – which affects 40,000 people across the country – is one of the most common neurological conditions in Ireland today while across the globe, there are approximately 50 million people living with epilepsy. Despite this, the condition is frequently misunderstood.

Commenting on plans for International Epilepsy Day, Epilepsy Ireland CEO Peter Murphy said, “International Epilepsy Day is celebrated in over 120 countries across the world and as the national organisation supporting and representing people with epilepsy and their families in Ireland, we are proud to take part in this global day of epilepsy awareness.

“Through our campaign, we are seeking to dispel four common myths that are still associated with the condition. These are among the most commonly reported by the people we work with, and are a source of great frustration when they arise.

“The campaign will involve four fantastic volunteers – Lorraine, Oliver, Gerard & Debbie – all of whom have epilepsy and are working or studying in Ireland today.  Through a series of striking images to be released on the day, they will be confronting a myth associated with the condition that they have personally experienced.”

Mr. Murphy went on to clarify each of myths that Epilepsy Ireland are seeking to dispel as part of their campaign, explaining:

That a person having a seizure may swallow their tongue and that putting something in their mouth can prevent them from doing so.

“A common myth we have focussed on is that a person needs something placed in their mouth during a seizure. This is still consistently raised with us by people who have had the unfortunate experience of having a hand, spoon or even a block of wood in one case put in their mouth during a seizure. This can cause serious damage to a person’s mouth, teeth or jaws but it remains a global myth which urgently needs to be confined to history”.
Golden Rule: Never put anything in someone’s mouth during a seizure.

That a person should be restrained during a seizure.
“Being restrained during a seizure is another ongoing problem. When a person is having a seizure, you should let the seizure run its course. Yes, protect the person, for example by placing something soft underneath their head or in the case of focal seizures, guiding them away from danger. But holding down a person having a seizure can cause injuries to that person or to the person doing the restraining. There are some simple do’s and don’ts’ around seizure first aid on our website”
Golden Rule: Never restrain a person during a seizure.

That there is only one type of seizure

“Through our campaign slogan – “As many myths as there are seizures” – we are also highlighting a myth in itself. Most people visualise epilepsy as involving a person falling to the ground, their muscles tensing and jerking involuntary. That kind of seizure is called a tonic-clonic seizure but there are many other types that are equally common while presenting entirely differently. The reality is that a person could be upright and in some cases, be responsive and aware during a seizure. These are called focal seizures and sometimes, it can seem that a person is drunk due to their symptoms such as confusion, disorientation, slurred speech or limited responsiveness. The lack of awareness around these types of seizures is something that can cause great difficulty for the thousands of people who experience them”
Golden Rule: Visit and know how to recognise the most common types of seizure

That all people with epilepsy are averse to flashing or flickering lights.
“The stereotypical perception of those who have epilepsy is that they cannot be near flashing lights. It is often the first question that a person with epilepsy is faced with when they talk about their condition.  It is a myth that can lead to social isolation especially amongst younger people with epilepsy, where they are left out of nights out due to the presumption that they would not be able to attend”.

Golden Rule: Only about 3% of all people with epilepsy are photosensitive.

Concluding on the aims of the campaign, the Epilepsy Ireland CEO said, “If the Irish public confine these four myths - as well as the many others which surround epilepsy - to history, it would have a huge impact on the lives of people with epilepsy in Ireland today. These are just four myths that we are seeking to tackle through our campaign and we would encourage everyone to please take five minutes to visit to sort the myths from the facts this International Epilepsy Day.”

Epilepsy Ireland’s International Epilepsy Day campaign is now live on our website and will be released throughout the day on our social media channels.