‘Epilepsy is treatable’ is stressed on World Epilepsy Day

A few years ago when 45-year-old Gopinathan (name changed) of Coimbatore was all set to have a marital relationship, tragedy struck him. He suffered an epileptic attack which forced the bride’s family to call off the wedding.

People in his hamlet believed that some kind of a curse had befallen the groom, who was hospitalised for weeks. Abandoned by his kin, he led a life without any moral support.

In 2012, a local doctor referred him to a rehabilitation centre in Madurai where he underwent treatment for two years. Now, Gopinathan feels healthier and is ready to begin the second innings of his life. He proposes to return home and tie the nuptial knot next year.

He is one of the several epileptic patients, who have successfully recovered from the condition and are leading a normal life.

“Epilepsy is treatable and persons with the condition can lead a normal lifestyle” was the message that doctors underscored on the World Epilepsy Day on Wednesday.

Once diagnosed, the patients will have to take medication for three to 10 years depending on their condition. But the key is to take the medicines regularly, say experts.

Expressing his views, B. Sridharan, senior neurologist at Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here, said, “There are no gender differences in the manifestation of epilepsy. The kin of the patients need to know about the condition of the patients to provide the right support in bringing them back to the mainstream of life within a short span.”

People must know that 70 per cent of the patients can be brought back to normalcy through a course of safe drugs, he told The Hindu.

“While very few suffer due to genetic factor, other factors that cause the disease include head injury,” Dr.Sridharan said.

Nearly 30 per cent of the patients visiting the GRH suffer from various forms of epilepsy. Children up to 15 years of age are more prone to the disease owing to excessive television watching.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness or convulsions associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

When it came to marriage, more than 95 per cent of epileptic patients usually concealed their condition fearing negative responses, said K.S.P. Janardhan Babu, Director (Programme), M.S. Chellamuthu Trust.

“Such secrecy and concealment can have negative social, psychological and physical effect which, in turn, can increase the chances of a seizure,” he noted.

“People should not restrict the violent movements of an epileptic person, but must ensure that they do not injure themselves and make them lie down on their side so that saliva does not get into their lungs,” he added.

At the GRH, there is a separate review counter to serve the epileptic patients. It remains open on Thursdays for women and on Saturdays for men.

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