Epilepsy is a term I have heard in the past and one that I am hearing more often, most recently after a friend lost a loved one following an epileptic seizure.
My serious injury colleagues at Spencers also come across this condition when representing clients who have suffered life changing head injuries and because of what I have learned about epilepsy, this year on 26 March I will be wearing purple along with people all around the world to raise awareness and help Epilepsy Action “bring epilepsy out of the shadows”.
What is epilepsy?
• Everyday 87 people in the UK are diagnosed with epilepsy and there are more than 500,000 affected by the condition, that equates to one person out of 100
• Epilepsy is a neurological condition caused by malfunctioning nerve cell activity in the brain, these malfunctions cause episodes known as seizures
• The severity of a seizure can vary from person to person and symptoms can range from staring blankly for seconds or minutes, to a loss of consciousness or even uncontrollable shaking
• It can start at any age but is usually diagnosed in people under 20 or over 65, this is thought to be due to some causes of epilepsy being more common in these age groups
• One in 20 people will have a seizure in their life but this does not mean they have epilepsy
• One in 50 people will have epilepsy at some time but not everyone with epilepsy will have it for life.
• Epilepsy is most commonly treated with medication called anti-epileptic drugs (AED's) which aim to stop seizures happening.
Types of epilepsy
There are thought to be around 40 different types of seizure and a person may have more than one type. Seizures are commonly divided into two groups and each group is then sub categorised. There is so much information about the types of epilepsy and I want to share this in more detail in the run up to #PurpleDay so look out for further information in future blogs.
Causes of epilepsy
Different epilepsies can have different underlying causes which may be complex or difficult to identify. A person may start having seizures because of one or more of the following:
• A genetic tendency, passed down from one or both parents (inherited)
• A genetic tendency that is not inherited, but is a new change in the person's genes
• A structural or symptomatic change in the brain, such as the brain not developing properly, or damage caused by a brain injury, infections like meningitis, a stroke or tumour
• A structural change due to genetic conditions such as tuberous sclerosis (a condition that causes growths in organs including the brain which can cause epilepsy) or neurofibromatosis (a condition that causes benign tumours to grow on the covering of nerves which can cause epilepsy)
Epileptic seizure triggers
Triggers are situations that can bring on a seizure in some people with epilepsy. As with severity, triggers can vary from person to person but common triggers include tiredness and lack of sleep, stress, alcohol and not taking medication. Flashing lights may cause a seizure if a person has photosensitive epilepsy, this is thought to be less than 5% of people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action is a charity that improves the lives of everyone affected by epilepsy. They give advice, improve healthcare, fund research and campaign for change. You can find further information regarding epilepsy and the charity by visiting their website www.epilepsy.org.uk or calling 0808 800 5050.
On Purple Day (March 26) Epilepsy Action will be sharing stories from people with epilepsy about their feelings, seizures and how the condition affects their daily lives in the hope that people will understand more about epilepsy and the impact it has on people’s lives.
If you want to help the valuable work of Epilepsy Action there are a number of ways to donate. You can:
• Call 0113 210 8857
• Text “ACT NOW” to 70700 to donate £5*
• Buy a wristband from the Epilepsy Action shop
• Leave a gift in your will, my colleague Samantha Ibrahim is an expert in Wills and Probate and can offer you advice on this. Samantha can be contacted on 01246 266637
Your donation would improve the lives of people affected by epilepsy when they need it most but, consider helping raising awareness as well. I will be encouraging my friends, family and colleagues to wear purple on 26 March and you can do the same. You can also share this article on social media to spread awareness far and wide.
*Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate. Epilepsy Action will receive 100 percent of the donation. UK only.
About the Author
Samantha Handley is a Litigator within our Loss Recovery Team.
Samantha deals predominantly with corporate fleet clients and in addition to handling her own caseload, Samantha enjoys supporting and training new members of the team.