In Nigeria, It is a common sight, especially in urban areas to see a healthy person suddenly collapse and start convulsing. The most possible reaction of people around will be to gather round and try to help the person stabilize. When this happens in children, mothers use an iron spoon to keep the baby’s teeth from clenching together, a condition known as bruxism. Some people understand this as seizure or epilepsy, while to others, it’s a spiritual attack or something out of the ordinary.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that shows in a way of repeated seizures. It also comes with convulsion, short spells or confused memory and repetitive movements that seem inappropriate. The causes of this disease vary among individuals by age: it can be due to genes, an infection of the brain, head injuries or even stoke in people over 65 years. Epilepsy is very common, 50 million people in the world are affected by this disease. Currently, there is no treatment.
There are many challenges with managing epilepsy in Nigeria. According to the international league against Epilepsy in Nigeria, some of the reasons this disease is overlooked is due to cultural, religious and local beliefs. Moreso, people underestimate certain head injuries, accidents, and brain stressing factors.
In young Nigerians adults, neurologists say falling off commercial bicycles popularly called “okada” may be a leading cause of epilepsy as people don’t wear helmets and don’t receive proper care when involved in an accident. Moreso is the poor access to healthcare which prevents early diagnosis and management of this condition.
Whether epilepsy causes brain damage or not is still subject to research, however it affects various aspects of an individual’s life such as his/her emotions and behaviour, social development and interaction, ability to study and work. Therefore, to manage epilepsy or seizures for you or your loved ones, it is advised that you take the following measures:
- Know about your condition.
- Take your seizure medicines as prescribed.
- Check with your doctor before taking other medicines or supplements.
- Keep a record of your seizures and seizure triggers to track patterns and learn how to avoid seizure triggers.
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise regularly and safely each day.
- Follow a well-balanced diet and keep a healthy weight.
- Don’t use tobacco, drink alcohol excessively, or abuse other substances.
- Practice ways to lower stress.
- Keep in touch with friends and family for support.
- Talk to your doctor about health concerns.
- Keep other health conditions in check.
- Get help for emotional problems.
- Use memory strategies to help with memory problems.