Approximately 60 million people around the world are affected by epilepsy, with over 600,000 diagnosed in the UK and 40,000 in Ireland.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is characterised by seizures which are caused by excessive electrical activity in the brain. This disruption to the way the brain normally works means the brain’s messages become mixed up and the result is an epileptic seizure.
Who is affected?
Epilepsy can affect anyone of any age, gender, race or ethnicity, but is most commonly diagnosed in childhood and in people over the age of 60.
What can be done to help?
Learning to recognise the symptoms of a seizure is a great place to start helping those affected, as well as knowing what to do when a seizure occurs to minimise the harm done to both the person and those around them.
There are over 40 different types of seizure, but the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) has identified 3 main types:
- Generalised Onset - often results in loss of consciousness
- Focal Onset - consciousness may be altered but is not lost
- seizures of unknown onset
What first aid is needed for seizures?
Generalised Onset Seizure (loss of consciousness)
- Stay calm and time the seizure
- Protect/cushion the head
- If possible turn the person on their side
- Don’t restrain the person - unless they are in danger.
- Let the seizure run its course
- Do not put anything in the mouth (you can wipe away saliva)
Turn the person on their side after the seizure stops. Stay with them until they recover and respond fully.
Focal Onset, absences and minor seizures :
- Stay calm and time the seizure;
- Don’t restrain the person - unless they are in danger;
- Let the seizure run its course;
- Guide the person away from danger;
- Do not agitate the person;
- Speak gently and reassure the person;
- Stay with the person until they recover and respond fully.
An ambulance should be called if;
- it is the first known seizure;
- the seizure lasts longer than normal;
- the seizure lasts over 5 minutes (where normal duration is not known) for major seizures;
- more seizures follow without recovery;
- there are concerns about breahting
- the person is injured, pregnant, has another medical condition or you are in any doubt.
What treatment options are there?
Most people with epilepsy take anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) to prevent their seizures. Over the past decades new drugs for epilepsy have become available which allow many people with epilepsy to live virtually seizure-free lives. For others, surgery can be successful. However, there remains a cohort (approx. 1/3) that do not respond to any treatment and this is known as Treatment Resistant Epilepsy (TRE).
The anti-epileptic potential of cannabidiol (CBD has been the subject of numerous studies in recent years with the results showing promise. In July 2018, Satipharm completed a phase 2 clinical study to test Satipharm’s proprietary 50mg CBD Gelpell® capsules in paediatric patients with very severe, uncontrolled, treatment-resistant epilepsy. This prospective, open-label study demonstrated a marked therapeutic effect of a 12-week treatment period on seizure frequencies among the trial patients. The Gelpell® capsules demonstrated a potent seizure-reducing effect among paediatric TRE patients and were safe for use. The capsules do not contain the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Download the full, published study here.
For more information visit https://epilepsyresearch.org.uk/
If you think you are suffering from epilepsy, please consult your medical practitioner at the earliest opportunity.