Being epileptic doesn’t mean you cannot drive a car, according to Epilepsy SA.
It is, however, important for people with epilepsy to understand that the decision to drive is a great responsibility since they could be putting the public at risk if they lose consciousness while behind the wheel.
It was not only a seizure itself that could cause an accident but the anticonvulsant medication epilepsy sufferers take could result in drowsiness and lead to loss of control of consciousness.
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“Not all people who appear to have seizures have epilepsy,” said ER24 chief medical officer Dr. Robyn Holgate.
“About ten percent of the population will have seizures, and only one percent will be diagnosed with epilepsy.”
Holgate said that while some epilepsies were genetic there were many causes.
The condition can be traced to various factors, including:
– Head trauma as a result of a car accident or other injury.
– Brain conditions such as brain tumours or strokes can cause epilepsy. (Stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy in adults older than age 35.)
– Infectious diseases, such as meningitis, AIDS, and viral encephalitis.
– Prenatal injury. Before birth, babies are sensitive to brain damage that could be caused by things such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies.
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The myths about epilepsy that should be debunked, include:
– Swallowing one’s tongue during a seizure.
“It is physically impossible to swallow your tongue. If left on your back, your tongue may obstruct your airway, but it’s not possible to swallow your tongue,” she said.
– You should force something into victim’s mouth when they are having a seizure.
“Absolutely not. This could damage teeth, the patient’s jaw and gums. The correct first aid technique is to gently roll somebody onto their side and put something soft under their head (such as a pillow). You should also never restrain somebody having a seizure.”
– Epilepsy is contagious.
“You cannot catch epilepsy from another person.”
– Only kids get epilepsy.
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“Epilepsy may affect people of any age, but in our older population, the causes may be as a result of health rather than genetics.”
– People with epilepsy should not be in jobs with any responsibility.
“Epilepsy is a chronic medical problem, which can be managed with medication. When this condition is well-managed, those suffering from epilepsy can be active and valuable members of society. Some people may be able to identify what triggers their epilepsy. This may include lack of sleep, illness, stress, bright or flashing lights, caffeine or alcohol, and skipping meals. Where a trigger is identified, these triggers should be avoided if possible.”[…]