Although our century has long been recognized as sacred, we are conquering space and have introduced computers everywhere, and stereotypes and delusions among the people are still alive. Let's debunk some of the main myths about epilepsy.
Epilepsy has always been bad for society. In ancient Greece and Rome, this disease was considered the intervention of Gods in human life, it is no coincidence that epilepsy was nicknamed "Hercules' disease", "divine disease". But in Christianity, the tendency to seizures was attributed to demonic intervention. For example, in the description of Cyril of Jerusalem, demonic possession strongly resembles all the same epilepsy. You can also remember one of the medieval guides for summoning otherworldly spirits. It describes that incorrect preparation for the rite can lead to the death of the magician, while an epileptic stroke will occur.
Epileptics are mentally retarded people. It is often believed that this disease always entails brain degradation, but science completely refutes this assumption. Where did the myth come from then? As early as the middle of the 19th century, epilepsy was considered a hereditary disease that leads to mental retardation and even leads to a tendency to crime. There were no valid prescriptions for epilepsy, and patients with such a diagnosis often received craniocerebral injuries as they fell. Unsurprisingly, this led to structural damage to the brain. Later, drugs with bromine began to be used to combat seizures, which in itself negatively affected intellectual abilities. And so it turned out that mental retardation was also attributed to epilepsy, which objectively arose for completely different reasons. Scientists have proven that intellectual disabilities can accompany epilepsy only if it has arisen due to severe traumatic brain injury. But if this did not happen, then qualitative changes in the personality of a person with epilepsy will not occur.
Epilepsy is a purely mental illness. Even 30 years ago, psychiatrists were exclusively involved in the treatment of this disease. But today medicine has delivered an unambiguous verdict - epilepsy has no mental pathological essence. There is epileptology - the field of neurology, since the origin of the disease has nothing to do with changes in the activity of the human brain. It was revealed that epilepsy can be caused by previous strokes, tumors, vascular lesions of the brain, disturbances in human metabolism (liver failure, uremia, hypoglycemia) and even tick-borne encephalitis. This clearly shows that the causes of the disease are exclusively physiological in nature.
Epilepsy is a hereditary disease. In fact, there is indeed a hereditary predisposition to epilepsy. In such a situation, doctors talk about the idiopathic form of the disease (with it, there are no other factors besides hereditary). But there is no need to talk about the high risk of transmission of epilepsy from parents to children. The probability of such an event is small and does not exceed 8%.
With epilepsy, seizures are a must. It is with seizures that epilepsy is directly associated. However, doctors distinguish about 40 different forms of manifestation of this disease, as well as different types of epileptic seizures. Of these, a significant proportion belongs to absences, or non-convulsive seizures. Abscesses are more common in early adolescence and even childhood. Such an attack is characterized by a sharp fading of a person, his eyes become glassy, his eyelids begin to tremble slightly, and his head tilts slightly. But such an attack lasts only a few seconds, it is not surprising that others practically do not notice it. But convulsive epileptic seizures for several hours and even days before their onset can be predicted by the patients themselves. This is due to the specific sensations that people experience, the frequency of seizures in this case directly depends on the severity of the disease. It happens that a seizure can happen only once in a lifetime, the other extreme are dozens of seizures per day. Some patients generally experience epileptic seizures only in their sleep.
An epileptic seizure can occur due to stress. This can really happen, but is this the main reason? Epilepsy can occur due to overheating in the sun, a large amount of alcohol taken, and poisoning. In almost half of patients, seizures are caused by flickering of a TV or monitor screen, color music or driving along evenly planted trees. Someone is provoked by the flickering headlights of the car. Attacks can appear even when traveling, due to jet lag by more than two. Among the reasons, doctors emphasize sleep disorders. Late falling asleep, violent awakening or being awake at night are far more important causes of epilepsy than normal stress.
Children do not get epilepsy. And the statistics say otherwise. In 70% of patients, epilepsy first manifests itself in childhood and adolescence. At this age, the incidence of epilepsy among children is 0.7%. For infants, the cause of the disease can be oxygen deficiency even during pregnancy (hypoxia), congenital brain defects, intrauterine infectious lesions (toxoplasmosis, herpes, rubella, cytomegaly and others). And birth trauma, although rarely, can become a source of epilepsy in babies. This is the first wave, and the last peak in the incidence of epilepsy occurs already in old age. This is facilitated by a number of neurological diseases, primarily strokes.
Epilepsy cannot be cured. This opinion has existed for a long time, but the development of neuropharmacology has led to the fact that now patients can maintain their lifestyle in a normal mode. 60-70% of patients can now safely go to work, study, and women can give birth to absolutely healthy children. But in order to achieve such results, drugs must be taken for many years, and often in general - throughout life. To successfully treat epilepsy, it is necessary to correctly diagnose and take medications exactly as prescribed. A fairly large number of cases are known when, under the influence of drugs, in some patients (especially often in children) epilepsy eventually disappeared altogether. A typical method of treatment is monotherapy, that is, they try to treat epilepsy with some one drug. But epilepsy also has forms that are difficult to treat - resistant. In such cases, the patient is prescribed several drugs at once, and in especially severe cases, even an operation is performed on the affected area of the brain.
Epilepsy is the lot of ordinary people. History knows many examples when great politicians, scientists, and artists suffered from such attacks. It is enough just to mention the names of Socrates and Moliere, Nobel and Lenin, Napoleon and Dostoevsky, Stendhal and Byron. At the same time, in some of these people, subsequent studies of their diseases unambiguously confirmed the diagnosis of epilepsy (Julius Caesar, Flaubert), and in other individuals whose activities have been going on for a long time, this can be confirmed with relative reliability (Saul, the Apostle Paul). Many geniuses did not suffer from chronic epilepsy at all, confining themselves only to periodic seizures (Lenin, Byron). It can be emphasized once again that the presence of such a disease in famous people is absolutely compatible with a high level of intelligence, without hindering the development of genius.