Today (26 March) is Purple Day, which raises awareness about epilepsy. A condition which is often misunderstood, Purple Day aims to set straight any misconceptions and bring together people who are living with the condition.
WHAT IS EPILEPSY?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes seizures. Seizures are waves of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works.
The condition can develop at any age, however it’s most commonly developed in childhood, or over the age of 60. It is a lifelong condition, but certain medications and treatments can help manage symptoms.
Seizures can present differently in different people and can affect everyone in a variety of ways. However, there are some key signs to look out for:
- uncontrollable jerking or shaking
- losing awareness and staring into space
- becoming stiff
- tingling in legs or arms
- unusual smells or tastes
- fainting, or being unable to remember what happened
If you have a seizure and you’ve never had one before, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately, or phone NHS 24 (111) for advice.
Having a seizure doesn’t mean you have epilepsy, as they can be a sign of other conditions, so it’s important to speak to a doctor urgently, as seizures can cause other medical complications, or in case it’s caused by another underlying health issue.
Though there is no definitive cure for epilepsy that works for every person, there are treatment options available that can help to manage them and even stop them completely.
Medicines called anti-epileptic drugs are used as the main treatment option. However, if these are ineffective, other options include:
- surgery to remove a small part of the brain that is causing the seizures
- a particular diet, known at the ketogenic diet, that can help keep seizures under control
- a procedure that inserts a small electrical device into the body to help alleviate seizures
Purple Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness about the condition and bring those that are living with it together. Founded in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, she wanted people to start talking about the condition, and remove any stigma and ignorance about what epilepsy is, and how it affects people.
In the UK, various charities are dedicated to talking about epilepsy and helping those living with it every day, but particularly on Purple Day.
If you want to get involved with Purple Day, make sure to look your favourite purple clothes out of the wardrobe and get sharing selfies across social media to raise awareness.