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Epilepsy myths

Epilepsy mythsA new study suggests many people still believe potentially harmful myths about epilepsy.

Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has regular seizures caused by sudden bursts of electrical activity occurring in the brain. The bursts prevent the brain from communicating normally with the body.

University College London surveyed 4,605 members of staff and students on what to do in the event of a seizure and how they would help someone.

A third of respondents believed they should put something in the mouth of someone having a seizure to stop them swallowing their tongue.

In reality the item could end up obstructing their airways or cause serious damage to their teeth.

Lead author of the study, Dr Sallie Baxendale said the finding was “extremely worrying”. She added: "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 also found that 67% would phone an ambulance though this should only be done if this is the person’s first seizure, it last longer than five minutes or they are injured.

Experts also recommend that in the event of a seizure the area surrounding the person should be cleared and a cushion placed under their heads if they’re on the floor.

Dr Baxendale added: "One problem is that seizures look extremely dramatic, but actually for most people it is something that happens occasionally and that they can recover from relatively quickly.

"The only thing to do is keep them safe and let the seizure run its course."

Alison Knight from the charity Epilepsy Action said: "It is worrying that so many people do not know what to do, but in a way it's not surprising because epilepsy is still a very misunderstood condition."

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