National Epilepsy Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

National Epilepsy Day is annually observed on 17th November in India. This day aims to create awareness about the disease of epilepsy to the general public. 

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that is characterized by recurrent seizures or fits. People all over the country take this day as an opportunity to learn more about seizures and how to tackle the situation. 

This day is organised and created by the Epilepsy Foundation. Other than National Epilepsy Day being celebrated on November 17, November is also observed as the National Epilepsy Awareness Month in India. This day gives a platform to people suffering from epilepsy to highlight their issues and problems. 

Event National Epilepsy Day
Date November 17, 2022
Day Thursday
Significance The day raises awareness about the disease of epilepsy to the general public.
Observed by India

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National Epilepsy Day History: 

The oldest medical records show that epilepsy has been affecting people at least since the beginning of recorded history.  Throughout ancient history, the disease was thought to be a spiritual condition. The world’s oldest description of an epileptic seizure comes from a text in Akkadian (a language used in ancient Mesopotamia) and was written around 2000 BC. The person described in the text was diagnosed as being under the influence of a moon god, and underwent an exorcism. The oldest known detailed record of the disease itself is in the Sakikku, a Babylonian cuneiform medical text from 1067–1046 BC. This text gives signs and symptoms, details treatment and likely outcomes, and describes many features of the different seizure types. 

Around 900 BC, Punarvasu Atreya described epilepsy as loss of consciousness; this definition was carried forward into the Ayurvedic text of Charaka Samhita (about 400 BC). The ancient Greeks had contradictory views of the disease. They thought of epilepsy as a form of spiritual possession, but also associated the condition with genius and the divine. In Ancient Rome people did not eat or drink with the same pottery as that used by someone who was affected. People of the time would spit on their chest believing that this would keep the problem from affecting them. So unfortunately people with epilepsy mostly were discriminated for a long time in human history. 

In most cultures, persons with epilepsy have been stigmatized, shunned, or even imprisoned. As late as in the second half of the 20th century, in Tanzania and other parts of Africa epilepsy was associated with possession by evil spirits, witchcraft, or poisoning and was believed by many to be contagious. In the mid-19th century, the first effective anti-seizure medication, bromide, was introduced. The first modern treatment, phenobarbital, was developed in 1912, with phenytoin coming into use in 1938. Since then perception have mostly changed across the world but still many people have social stigma associated with epilepsy. 

In India too still social stigma about epilepsy or lack of awareness exists among various sections of the society so, the National Epilepsy Day is a campaign in India launched by the Epilepsy Foundation of India to reduce the prevalence of epilepsy in the country. The Epilepsy Foundation of India was established by Dr Nirmal Surya in 2009 and is located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The Epilepsy Foundation is a non-profitable charitable organization that helps people with seizures in leading a fulfilling life. The organization also works towards changing people’s view about epilepsy. 

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National Epilepsy Day Significance: 

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of brain in which the person experiences recurrent seizures, also called as fits. These seizures are a result of sudden, excessive electrical discharges in the brain cells that we know as neurons. It can affect people of any age with each age group having its unique concerns and problems. Seizures can vary from the briefest lapses of attention or muscle jerks to severe and prolonged convulsions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from less than one per year to several per day. One seizure does not signify epilepsy (up to 10% of people worldwide have one seizure during their lifetime). Epilepsy is defined as having two or more unprovoked seizures. The important thing to note is that the treatment of epilepsy should not be delayed as should start as soon as it is diagnosed. 

Epilepsy accounts for a significant proportion of the world’s disease burden, affecting around 50 million people worldwide. The estimated proportion of the general population with active epilepsy (i.e. continuing seizures or with the need for treatment) at a given time is between 4 and 10 per 1000 people. Globally, an estimated 5 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. In high-income countries, there are estimated to be 49 per 100 000 people diagnosed with epilepsy each year. In low- and middle-income countries, this figure can be as high as 139 per 100,000. In India, about 10 million people suffer from seizures related to epilepsy. 

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Characteristics of seizures vary and depend on where in the brain the disturbance first starts, and how far it spreads. Temporary symptoms occur, such as loss of awareness or consciousness, and disturbances of movement, sensation (including vision, hearing and taste), mood, or other cognitive functions. People with epilepsy tend to have more physical problems (such as fractures and bruising from injuries related to seizures), as well as higher rates of psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression. A great proportion of the causes of death related to epilepsy, especially in low- and middle-income countries, are potentially preventable, such as falls, drowning, burns and prolonged seizures. 

Epilepsy is not contagious. Although many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy, the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50% of cases globally. The causes of epilepsy are divided into the following categories: structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune and unknown. Seizures can be controlled. Up to 70% of people living with epilepsy could become seizure free with appropriate use of antiseizure medicines. Discontinuing anti-seizure medicine can be considered after 2 years without seizures and should take into account relevant clinical, social and personal factors. 

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National Epilepsy Day Celebrations: 

National Epilepsy Day is celebrated to raise awareness about epilepsy in people. On this occasion, many government and non-government organization conduct events in observance of this day. You can check out what is going on in your area and encourage friends and family to get involved. Try to learn more about this condition and day through online resources. Share what you learn with others too.

To show your support towards people suffering with epilepsy you can wear purple ribbon on this opportunity. As lavender is the international colour used to signify epilepsy as the flower is associated with solitude, which represents the feeling of isolation among people with epilepsy. So to show your support against discrimination of people with epilepsy wear a purple ribbon and let others know about it! 

If you are suffering from epilepsy too or know somebody who has it then we have some tips for you, take the epilepsy medications regularly as advised by doctor, even if you are not having seizures. Do not discontinue the medications without your doctors advice. Consult your doctor while taking any other medications to avoid possible side effects or any complications. Do not drink alcohol as it provokes seizures. 

Most Searched FAQs on National Epilepsy Day: 

1. When is National Epilepsy Day observed? 

National Epilepsy Day is annually observed on November 17th in India. 

2. Who started the celebration of National Epilepsy Day? 

To create awareness about epilepsy, Epilepsy Foundation of India founded National Epilepsy Day. 

3. How many people suffers from epilepsy in India? 

As of recent data, over 10 million people suffers from epilepsy in India. 

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