Epilepsy is a condition that affects about 60,000 young people under the age of 18 (enough that when sitting comfortably, they could fill Wembley stadium). Getting a diagnosis of epilepsy may not be simple and can take a long time. This is because the doctors want to be sure they have got it right. Seizures can look very different and there are no easy tests that can be used. Other conditions can cause events that look like seizures and the doctors need to rule these out first of all.
A good eye witness account will be needed because the doctors will want to know what type of seizures someone is having. This is important and is helpful in the treatment of epilepsy. They will also want to know if there is anything that might make a seizure more likely to occur (these are called triggers). Some tests such as an EEG and MRI scans can also be useful helping the doctors to work it out.
Once the doctors are sure it is epilepsy they will discuss your treatment options. They usually use drugs called antiepileptic drugs which can be taken every day at home. For some people the doctors may talk about surgery or dietary therapies to treat epilepsy but this is not common.
It is important for people to know about epilepsy but telling people can be quite hard. School will also need to know so that they can work out the best way of looking after someone in the classroom and on trips. The important thing to remember is that life should go on as normally as possible. When people have all the information they need they will deal with epilepsy so much better.
Parents will always worry. It’s what they’re programmed to do! The best way to help them is to find out as much as possible about epilepsy. Find out about how other people deal with their epilepsy.. What do they do about travel, going out, working, relationships, driving? This way parents can see it’s all under control and everything is possible with a little thinking and planning.
The best thing is to talk about it if possible. The more people understand the more helpful they are likely to be. A good way to find out how other people cope with their families is by using a forum online. Other people always have ideas, some good, some bad, about how to sort things out.
Forums can also be a good way of getting support from other people around the country who have similar problems. This can be very useful when people are feeling a bit down or depressed. However the best way of avoiding feeling low is to have good friends, go out and keep active.
There are a lot of changes in life. New teachers! New doctors! New schools! It is an exciting time but maybe tiring and stressful. Learn how to prepare for these changes so that they can be as smooth and easy as possible. Collect as much information as possible so that future challenges like changing doctors will be more straightforward.