By Patience Radisoeng
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. However Young Epilepsy Botswana (YEB) public relations personnel, Bame Motsomatshukudu said not all seizures are due to epilepsy as other conditions that can look like epilepsy include fainting, or very low blood sugar in some people being treated for diabetes.
“Whilst, we acknowledge that over 50 million people worldwide are affected by Epilepsy, it is equally for us worldwide to know that seizure can happen to anyone at any time without warning and for no apparent reason,” she noted adding that one in ten people will have a seizure during his or her lifetime.
She explained that epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting people in Botswana though it is not contagious and it is rarely fatal.
Motsomatshukudu adds that seizures typically last from a few seconds to a few minutes and consist of convulsions or shaking. However, they can also manifest in other ways ÔÇô say, a person smells a strange scent, sees colors or visual images, or engages in strange behaviors such as chewing, lip smacking and fidgeting. Other times, a patient will simply become unresponsive and stare into space.
Thus there is no one-size-fits-all seizure; in fact, some patients with epilepsy experience more than one type of seizure.
Meanwhile according to a report titled “Navigating life with Epilepsy” epilepsy is equally represented among both males and females and is most often diagnosed in young children and older adults. Where most children are diagnosed when they’re 3 to 6 years-old whereas younger patients usually have hereditary epilepsy and often outgrow it with age.
The report continued stating that in older adults, epilepsy risk increases two to threefold for patients over 65 due to strokes, tumors and other diseases. However, adolescents and young adults can also present with symptoms.
And so a statement from Botswana Epilepsy Association indicate that out of the millions affected by epilepsy 10 million are in Africa.
Consequently, persons with epilepsy often face social stigma and discrimination.
In that sense at least, a 13-year-old boy studying at Legae Academy-Shiv Sharma has now learned how to cope with epilepsy.
“I am an epileptic child and have been living with it since I was 4 years and it was difficult for me to even find out what am suffering from but as time passed my doctor and parents helped me to understand what it is and how to live positively with it,” he said.
Further he said that some of the challenges that he have are; not being able to swim alone due to medication memory weakness and being slow in understanding and writing which overall impact on his education.
Sharma says he wish schools could have special teachers who understand the condition he has and people should stop pitying them but rather support and befriend them.
However YEB will commemorate world purple day; being a day that has been marked as epilepsy awareness day on the 23rd March and they will be a walk from Grandpalm to CBD Zambezi towers. This year’s theme is dubbed “EPILEPSY IS A CONDITION AND CAN BE CONTROLLED.”