Wear Purple for Epilepsy Awareness

March 21, 2017

Find something purple to wear: Purple Day is this Sunday, March 26th.

In 2008, Cassidy Megan, who was struggling with Epilepsy, sought a way to rouse people into talking about epilepsy. She wanted to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they weren’t alone. Thus, the idea of Purple Day was born. 

Cassidy teamed with the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and together they developed and actualized Purple Day, an international grassroots epilepsy awareness campaign. 

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that triggers recurrent, unprovoked seizures. These seizures are sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain, usually affecting how a person appears or acts for a short time. Many people with epilepsy experience more than one type of seizure and additionally exhibit other symptoms of neurological problems. Approximately 65 million people worldwide live with epilepsy, with about 3 million in United States.

Seizures are epilepsy’s sole visible symptom. During a seizure, someone may remain alert or lose consciousness. Occasionally, some people don’t even one occurred. Some are more evident than others, capable of making your muscles stiffen or become impetuous. Contrarily, some seizures make you stare into space for a few seconds, or spur slight muscle twitches.

Diagnosing epilepsy can be difficult: there are many other disorders that can cause changed in behavior that are mistaken with epilepsy. Epilepsy is defined by a cluster of features, including: type(s) of seizure, age at which seizures begin, whether seizures are inherited, severity, pattern, brain imaging findings, genetic information, part of brain involved, and more.

Causes of epilepsy vary by age, however the cause is unknown for about half of everyone with epilepsy. As for the seizures, common triggers include: sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, drugs, flashing lights, low blood sugar, and more.

If you are ever around someone experiencing a seizure, remain cognizant of how long it persists. Usually a trip to the hospital isn’t needed unless it lasts longer than five minutes, the person experiences more than one in a row, or if the person is injured, pregnant, or has diabetes. Don’t attempt to restrain the person’s movement, rather remove dangerous objects that can cause harm from the area and turn the person on his or her side as the seizure concludes to allow saliva to drain, clearing the airway. Stay with the person until they are fully alert and thinking clearly.  

While there is no cure, there are numerous treatment options for stopping or controlling seizures. It starts with finding the right medication, which depends on several factors like epilepsy type, other health issues and medications. Medications can control seizures for about 70% of patients. Alternative treatments include vagus nerve stimulation, surgery, temporal lobe resection, ketogenic diets, among others.

Purple Day materialized with the hope of bringing people around the world together to better inform about epilepsy. This Sunday, wear purple and promote epilepsy awareness.