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Epilepsy myths prevail

25th July 2007

The results of a new study carried out by University College London reveals that many people "believe myths" about epilepsy.


One third of the 4,605 respondents to the study - published in the Epilepsy and Behaviour journal - said they would place an object in the mouth of a person having a seizure in order for them not to swallow their tongue.

Over two-thirds of people said would phone for an ambulance straightaway, although this is only necessary in for certain types of seizures or if the person is injured.

Seizures occur because of rapid electrical activity in the brain. This makes the brain stop its normal patterns of communication with the body. People who experience seizures on a regular basis are diagnosed as epileptic.

Experts advise that a person is kept in a safe environment and away from harmful objects during the course of a seizure.

Lead author Dr Sallie Baxendale said it was "extremely worrying" that people thought they should try to place objects in the mouth of a person having a seizure.

She said: "They think the person is going to swallow their tongue, but you can't actually do that. People having a seizure can bite down very hard, so something in their mouth could damage their teeth and leave them with a huge dental bill."

The study showed that more respondents over 65 years of age believed the myths than younger people, with over half of respondents over 65 saying they would put something in the mouth of a person having a seizure.

Dr Baxendale commented: "The only thing to do is keep [the person] safe and let the seizure run its course."

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Article Information

Title: Epilepsy myths prevail
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 3564
Date Added: 25th Jul 2007


BBC News

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