Recently, the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme in conjunction with Fedoma, held one of their lively science cafes on epilepsy. The food and drinks were flowing and the conversation was very interesting as the coordinators explained epilepsy in simple terms. Akossa Mphepo shares a few of the interesting facts thrown back and forth at the cafe.
Epilepsy. The word gets thrown around and sufferers are discriminated against or made fun of. But, how many of us really understand what this disorder is about? A presentation by Action Amos, Project Manager for Fedoma, helped iron out the few things that I was still in the dark about. Did you know, for instance, that pork worms are believed to cause epilepsy? These can come into the human body through eating uncooked or undercooked pork or through eating raw vegetables that contain pork-worm eggs. Here are a few of the things I learnt about epilepsy;
What causes epilepsy?
Medical research has proved that epilepsy can be caused by illness, brain damage or abnormal development of the brain. Since epilepsy has so many causes, it is sometimes difficult to determine the cause of a particular case. The disease may be a result of disorders, head and prenatal injuries, environmental and hereditary causes. Recent studies have also linked epilepsy to eating unhygienic pork.
What should you do when someone is having an epileptic seizure?
Do not be scared.
Clear the surrounding area.
Do not restrain them.
Do not put things in their mouth.
Put them in recovery position (on their side).
Take them to the hospital only if seizures last more than five minutes. Seizures normally last between 1-2 minutes.
Can epilepsy be treated?
Yes, with the help of one drug or a combination of drugs, it can be ably managed. Contact your doctor for detailed information on things such as the type of medication, the effects of the medication and how it is administered.
Do orgasms cause seizures?
Absolutely not! Epileptics can have a normal sex life just like everyone else. They ought to be extra careful when pregnant though because having multiple seizures might be harmful for the baby.
Can epileptics eat pork?
Yes, but they should take care not to eat undercooked pork, from which they may get pork worms. These pork worms will deposit themselves in different parts of the body such as the thighs and the brain. If they deposit themselves in the brain, they cause scarring and an infection of the nervous system which might lead to epileptic seizures .Pork worms are also ingested in the form of eggs through raw vegetables that have not been watched properly. So always make sure your pork is cooked right through. A trick I learnt from my mother is to wash vegetables and other fresh produce in salted water as this helps get rid of worms and other undesirables.
Is sleep deprivation linked to epilepsy?
Yes, studies have shown that people that are sleep deprived are more likely to have more seizures. If you are epileptic, make sure you get the recommended hours of sleep each night.
What are the consequences of poorly managed epilepsy?
The person will have learning problems, prone to accidents such as drowning, burns, road traffic accidents and stigma. He or she will not be able to lead a normal life.
How many people are epileptic in Malawi?
It is said that 2.5 to 3 percent of people are epileptic, that translates into roughly 500 000 people each year.