For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser.

DISPELLING MYTHS AND STIGMA | Epilepsy is treatable, not supernatural: Kashmir doctors

Introduction of new drugs has improved seizure control: Dr Sushil Razdan
12:39 AM Feb 13, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
dispelling myths and stigma   epilepsy is treatable  not supernatural  kashmir doctors

Srinagar, Feb 12: Doctors emphasise that individuals with epilepsy can lead fulfilling lives with proper medication and are fully capable of performing daily tasks.


However, they underscore the importance of dispelling the social stigma surrounding this prevalent illness in society.


During the commemoration of International Epilepsy Day at Paras Hospital, neurologists took the opportunity to dispel numerous myths surrounding this condition.

Highlighting a concerning trend in Kashmir, they revealed that a significant portion of patients experiencing seizures were not seeking treatment from neurologists.


Instead, they are often directed towards non-professional sources, ranging from faith healers to unqualified practitioners, for treatment.


Noted neurologist, Dr Sushil Razdan said, “Epilepsy stands as one of the most prevalent neurological disorders worldwide, affecting approximately 50 million individuals globally. In India alone, there are an estimated 6 to 8 million active epileptic patients. The prevalence of epilepsy spans across all states in the country, varying from 3 to 7.5 cases per 1000 of population.”


“Symptoms of epilepsy encompass a range of manifestations, including unconsciousness, frothing, jerking, stiffness, and alterations in sensorial perception, depending on the originating site within the brain. The causes of epilepsy are diverse and may include structural brain lesions, genetic factors, metabolic abnormalities, birth traumas, and hypoxia during birth, among others. Among the elderly, trauma and strokes emerge as common causes of seizures, with strokes being the leading cause,” Dr Razdan said. “Despite the complexities of epilepsy, significant advancements in medical treatment have been achieved over the past years. The introduction of new drugs has notably improved seizure control, with up to 70 to 80 percent of individuals achieving seizure freedom with medication alone. For the remaining 20 percent with drug-resistant seizures, surgical intervention offers promising outcomes. Across India, over 40 specialised centres now offer epilepsy surgery, providing thousands of patients with effective management options.”


He said that importantly, effective seizure control enables individuals with epilepsy to lead normal lives.

“Patients can experience normal life spans, pursue employment, maintain relationships, and even start families with proper treatment. Moreover, advancements in medication have addressed concerns related to pregnancy, ensuring safer pregnancies and deliveries for women with epilepsy,” Dr Razdan said.

Associate Director of Neurology and Neurointervention at Paras Hospital, Dr Hilal Ahmad Ganie emphasised that spreading awareness about epilepsy was to debunk prevailing myths.

“Epilepsy is a treatable condition that is not as uncommon as people think. But our society often starts treating those diagnosed with stigma, which should not happen,” he said.

Dr Ganie narrated the particular case of a woman who had been having seizures for 40 years but was made to believe they were due to supernatural forces.

“Her son, after securing a job, came to me and described her symptoms which were a clear case of epilepsy. After starting medication, she has been seizure-free for the last 6 years,” he recalled.

“This case illustrates how myths and superstitions surround epilepsy, causing untold suffering to patients. Epilepsy is a manageable neurological disorder like any other if properly treated,” Dr Ganie said. “We need to educate the masses to dispel misconceptions around epilepsy that fuel discrimination. With better awareness, we can ensure those with epilepsy get timely medical care and social acceptance rather than stigma.”

Consultant neurologist, Dr Shabir Paul highlighted the lack of awareness about epilepsy in Kashmir.

“What happens in Kashmir is that only 20 percent of patients come to neurologists for treatment after experiencing seizures. This is largely due to the social stigma, myths and lack of awareness among the general public and even some medical professionals,” Dr Paul said.

He said that ill-equipped health facilities in rural areas also contribute to poor epilepsy care.

“Many villages do not have doctors trained in managing epilepsy or the diagnostic tools to detect the condition. As a result, a large number of patients remain undiagnosed and untreated,” he said.

During a presentation to patients and their attendants, Dr Adnan Raina shared valuable insights on effectively managing patients experiencing seizures.

Dr Altaf Ramzan also addressed the audience, adding to the discussion.

Following the presentations, attendees engaged with the doctors, asking questions relevant to their concerns.