Purple, the color signifying royalty, luxury and power is the one associated with epilepsy as well. Any organism with a brain can be affected by epilepsy which is chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. Since the point of origin of these seizures is the human brain which sends out excessive electric discharges in the neurons (brain cells), the seahorse was the symbol of the Epilepsy society, London. A surprising symbol after all but not without a solid reason.
The hippocampus of the brain has been the associated with the disease for quite many years. This area is situated in the temporal lobes of the brain and plays a vital role in dealing with emotions. It is called hippocampus because it is shaped like a seahorse and in Greek hippocampus means a ‘seahorse’.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) almost 50 million people suffer from epilepsy worldwide of which 80% reside in developing countries. In India alone more than 10 million people suffer from epilepsy seizures-one of the main reasons for hosting a day of our own for popularizing the disease and making more and more people aware of its existence. November 17th is celebrated every year as the National Epilepsy Day but the concept of an exclusive day for epilepsy was initiated by a nine-year-old girl named Cassidy Megan in 2008 who struggled from the disease.
Some define it as epilepsy even when a single seizure occurs, but some other societies don’t support this cause as at least one in ten people suffer from at least one seizure in their lifetime. They call it epilepsy when there are multiple seizures that are recurrent. Hence, its even termed as a seizure disorder. While the condition is very disturbing to witness due to the occurrence of seizure, it is neither contagious nor a psychological disturbance of the mind. A seizure alters functioning and behavior of an individual and is commonly manifested as muscle spasms, twitching movements, convulsions or odd sensations. The nerve cell’s location that causes the seizure determines the manifestation form.
A Sense of Foreboding
Some people have a kind of a sensation or early warning signs also called as an ‘aura’ that is indicative of a seizure. It might be a feeling of dizziness, an unusual feeling in the stomach, buzzing in the ear or any sensation generally. But most people don’t realize this until they sit with a physician and discuss over their symptoms. Realizing the forthcoming of a seizure with the help of an aura helps to minimize seizure risk.
Is there are a Determined Cause
In 50% cases the cause of epilepsy is unknown, but the general ones commonly listed out by physicians include:
There is no cure, but the seizures can be controlled such that they have no impact on everyday life. Epilepsy is often a long-term condition that people live with for years together. Hence, treatment always incudes those options that can stop seizures and help the patient lead as normal a life as possible.
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are the primary treatment option prescribed for people with epilepsy which doesn’t cure the ailment but helps to control it as much as possible. Almost 70% children suffering from epileptic seizures are able to control it using AEDs. The rest of the population rely on other treatment options such as surgery (the region of the brain that triggers seizures is removed) or surgical therapy such as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) that help to control forthcoming seizures or at least reduce their intensity.
Some advocate the use of complementary therapies such as yoga, meditation, massage, hypnosis, aromatherapy, art, music or acupuncture. Even foot reflexology is advised for a few patients. Maybe that’s why lavender is the international flower for epilepsy. A symbol of isolation and loneliness the flowers live up to their name blooming in medium shades of purple. The pure oil from these flowers are sold as essential oils for aroma therapy as they are said to have a relaxing and refreshing effect on the brain and body thereby helping to reduce the occurrence of seizures. Now I guess most of you would have guessed the relevance of using the color purple to acknowledge epilepsy.
Unconventional Therapy: The Ketogenic Diet
When none of the treatments methods for seizures show a positive result the ketogenic diet is prescribed as the last option for children. Though it has minimal side effects and is inexpensive, it is an unconventional form of therapy as this diet prescribes high fat, low carb and controlled protein intake for treating epilepsy. The prescription of the ketogenic diet does not have the same impact on all epileptic patients. In one third of kids suffering from epilepsy, the diet completely controls seizures and in another one third of kids the diet helps to reduce the frequency of seizures or helps to reduce medication dosages for controlling the seizures. There are different forms of the diet having different effects on different individuals:
Classical Diet: Living to its description, the diet primarily includes high fat foods in the form of cream, butter, oil and other natural oily foods. Carbohydrates and proteins are included in minimal quantities.
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) diet: There is much more scope for including carbohydrates and proteins in this form alongside fat from naturally fatty foods or fat from a supplement of MCT oil or emulsion. These oils are not sold as retail and are available only on submitting a prescription form. While the classical diet relies on ratio of each of the macronutrients for calculation purpose, the MCT diet is based on the quantity of energy provided by the different food groups.
In order to ensure that the diet is nutritionally balanced a qualified dietitian works out the amount of food that the child can consume daily and the parents are taught to plan meals accordingly and are given a list of foods that must be avoided. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to help you child with the perfect ketogenic diet as an effective treatment option for epilepsy.
If a child sees a positive change by adhering to the diet prescribed, he/she feels it easier to comply with the diet than deal with devastating seizures. Usually, the diet is prescribed for not more than 2-3 years (during which the seizures are controlled or medication dosages reduced) after which the dietitian gives yet another well-balanced diet after looking into the patient’s conditions.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.