On the occasion of International Epilepsy Day – Feb 8, 2016 – Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon conducted a survey to assess the awareness in the general public on Epilepsy. The survey included the participation of 110 respondents who shared their personal opinions and experiences. According to the survey majority of the people don’t know how to act if they face a person having an epileptic seizure. 54% of the people shared that they shall try to physically restrain the patient, where as the correct way is to turn the body of the person on the left side. Dr Meena Gupta, Sr Consultant Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon shares, “ During an epileptic seizure the patient’s whole body shakes. There is jerking of the arms and the head along with frothing of the mouth. Sometimes the patient also wanders around confused. It is important that you make the person lie down on the floor and turn his/her body to the left side. Contacting a doctor is the next important thing to do.”
According to the survey 17% of the respondents thought that Epilepsy is contagious and 2% thought that the same is caused due to evil spirits. Dr Meena Gupta highlights, “This is a major reason for Epilepsy treatment being delayed and management of the disease becoming difficult. Many people especially in rural areaS resort to temples and local baba’s for treatment and the patient’s life is socially stigmatized. They are regarded as witches or as if they are under the influence of black magic. Numerous people also think that the disease is contagious and the patient ends up leading an isolated life.”
The survey also highlighted that majority of the people don’t know anyone who is suffering from Epilepsy. 88% of the respondents denied knowing anyone in that had this disease. According to Dr Meena Gupta “About 50 million people worldwide have Epilepsy, and nearly 80% of Epilepsy occurs in developing countries. A recent study by British Medical Journal also states that 14 out of every 1000 people will suffer from Epilepsy in their life time. Taking the huge population of India into consideration, raising awareness about Epilepsy – early diagnosis and management is essential. It is a common occurrence, but because of lack of documentation of the incidences, Epilepsy is still regarded as a rare occurrence. ”
The survey also highlighted that people are aware of the reason of Epilepsy – injuries during childhood and head injuries as an adult. WHO studies shared that head injuries are the most common cause of Epilepsy.
The most promising aspect of the survey was when 54% of the people shared that they shall contact a doctor to know more about Epilepsy, if ever they or their loved one has the disease. This highlights the changing mindset of the individuals towards medical professionals.