Unprovoked seizures? Doctors say epilepsy awareness needed


Guyana on Monday joined the world in raising awareness of a commonly misunderstood condition – epilepsy.

Doctors attached at the Georgetown Public Hospital said this is the first step in ensuring that myths about seizures are debunked and persons with the health condition are able to get the care they need.

“It’s very important that we are able to define epilepsy because there may be other things that look like epilepsy that aren’t,” Dr Alex Allan Persaud, a neurology specialist at the hospital said.

Numerous persons who suffer from seizures seek medical care at the Georgetown Public Hospital and of those cases, several are as a result of epilepsy.

This is a disorder of the brain characterized by repeated seizures and is caused by a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain. The brain, a major organ, is responsible for all motor functions.

Each year on February 12, International Epilepsy day is observed in efforts to raise awareness of this condition. And this year’s theme is “Milestones on My Epilepsy Journey”.

Dr Persaud explained that in some cases, the entire brain could ‘fire off’ during the epileptic seizures.

“It’s very important to know that the signs may vary from patient to patient.

“It can be one part of the brain that might be having that abnormal electrical discharge so if a person is having one part of the brain, that would be called a focal seizure and it depends on which part of the brain,” Dr. Persaud said.

Part of the hospital’s efforts to raise awareness is through informing patients and their families who visit the hospital. On Monday there was an information desk set up at the hospital to provoke conversations around the topic.

There are several signs and precautions to take when a person is experiencing a seizure. Dr Persaud said the seizure must be timed, and if five minutes elapse before it stops, that person needs to be rushed to an emergency room.

But while the seizure is occurring, persons are advised not to place restraints on the person and not to put anything into the person’s mouth. Instead put then into a safety position and cushion their head, remove all harmful objects from within their reach and stay with them.

Dr Sophia David-Longe, a doctor attached at the hospital’s neurology department,  said persons must pay attention to the medication and food they ingest that might cause reactions leading to epileptic seizures. The Georgetown Public Hospital currently has clinic days on Wednesdays for persons who suffer from seizures. The doctors said these patients include children as young as 6 months old who are tended to by the pediatric department.

There are pharmaceuticals that reduce the recurrence of the seizures but Dr David-Longe said each patient gets treatment that suits their individual needs.

“These medications are tailored depending on the patient, their other conditions and if those patients are pregnant or of childbearing age

“The risk is different for [pregnant] patients. We do have medication that is safe for both mommy and baby during this time, monitoring, using prenatal, help to reduce the risk of seizures in the pregnant person,” the doctor said.

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