KARACHI: To mark World Brain Day, the Aga Khan University Hospital conducted an awareness session on epilepsy. Speakers stressed the need to spread hope and awareness for epilepsy as the condition is curable in 70 per cent of cases.
Neurologist Dr Bashir Soomro said that the common perception regarding epilepsy is that some jinn or evil spirit has possessed a person. "First step of awareness is to know that there is no possession by spirits. In fact, it is a mental condition that should be medically treated," he said. He shared that even some practicing doctors are not fully educated about the various types of epilepsy, as the nature of the treatment and medicines vary from one type to another.
Speaking on the issue of compliance from the patient's end, Soomro said that there is lack of consistency among patients, as they are required to take medicines for long periods of time. "Expenses along with the availability of medicines remain a problem as medicines are of a specialised nature and are not available easily," he said. On the same note, Dr Arsalan Ahmed from Shifa Hospital, Islamabad, said that patients often cut down their daily dosage of medicines and do not take them as prescribed. He further emphasised the need for calcium supplements for those being treated for epilepsy. "Every medicine that is effective has a side-effect. If not calcium supplements then two glasses of milk intake is a must," he explained.
Neurologist and epilepsy specialist at AKU, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, introduced a couple of her patients who, despite suffering from epileptic fits since birth, are now living a normal life after consistent treatment. "The nature of epilepsy differs as some have mitochondrial disorders since birth, while other develop it at a later stage and can be treated through surgery," she said.
Sharing Siddiqui's point of view on the high possibility of disease treatment, neurologist Dr Ismail Khatri said that the chances of epilepsy being cured are higher than blood pressure or diabetes. "It can happen at any stage of life. Lack of oxygen at the time of birth especially in a third world country such as Pakistan is also one of the main causes of epilepsy," he said.
Consultant neurologist at AKU, Dr Mughis Sheerani said that although surgery, in which a certain affected sections of the brain are removed, is one of the options of treatment in a certain type of epilepsy, in other cases a battery is also inserted.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.
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