Epilepsy Awareness Month – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Amber Hall
Epilepsy Awareness Month is observed in Australia throughout March. People are encouraged to ‘Go Purple’, the international colour for epilepsy, to raise awareness of the condition.
Epilepsy Australia defines epilepsy as a common brain disorder which takes the form of recurring seizures. Approximately 65 million people worldwide currently live with epilepsy, including 250,000 in Australia alone. Epilepsy can affect people of any age, gender or ethnicity.
In 50% of cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown, however, some identified causes include:
• Structural abnormalities in the developing brain;
• Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis;
• Lack of oxygen to the brain during birth or after stroke;
• A brain injury; and
There are numerous epilepsy syndromes and each has its own symptoms, seizure types, causes, methods of diagnosis, outcomes and management.
Epilepsy Australia state that the presence of seizures is often the determining factor in diagnosing epilepsy and that “an eyewitness report of the event and the person’s own description of what happened prior to the event and the person’s own description of what happened prior to the event and how they felt afterwards can be the doctor’s best diagnostic tools.”*
Neurological examinations are also conducted to measure the electrical activity of the brain (EEG) to determine the part of the brain that is generating the seizure activity.
There are a number of factors that can trigger seizures, including:
• Infections and illness
• Lack of sleep
• Missed medication
• Severe changes in temperature and stress
Antiepileptic medications or (AEDs) are the main form of treatment for people with epilepsy. Approximately 60% to 70% of people diagnosed with epilepsy will gain a level of seizure control with medication.
Interchange Australia provides services to clients with epilepsy who use Antiepileptic medication. This medication assists them to manage their symptoms and supports them to participate in a range of fulfilling activities.
For more information about epilepsy including causes, diagnosis, types of seizures and triggers, please visit the Epilepsy Australia* website or consult a medical professional.