November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

November is a month full of activities such as Dios de los Muertos, Veterans Day, Election Day, No Shave November, the well-known Thanksgiving, daylight savings time, Black Friday, and the beginning of Christmas set up for many, but it is also National Epilepsy Awareness Month.

Epilepsy is a disorder where the nerve cell activity in the brain is disrupted, causing recurrent seizures. Epilepsy can be caused by a genetic disorder or an injury to the brain. Seizures can manifest themselves in differing ways; their symptoms can include staring spells, rapid blinking, jerking of limbs, stiff body, uncon-sciousness, rhythmic head nodding, difficulty breathing or blue lips.

Epilepsy is a dangerous disorder that cannot be cured and can cause sudden and unexpected death also known as SUDEP (sudden, unex-pected death in epilepsy). The goal of National Epilepsy Awareness Month is to raise awareness for the disorder. One of the major goals of this month is to educate people on epilepsy. So, if someone may be having a seizure, one can help by laying them safely on their side while cushioning their head and timing the seizure, position their mouth downward to prevent choking, loosen any tight clothing from around the neck, speak to them calmly, ensure those around remain calm, try to make sure they are in a safe area and not walking around, do not hold them still instead allow them to move freely.

It is a myth that you should put something in their mouth, stay with them until their seizure passes, do not allow them to eat or drink until they are alert, if it appears they have stopped breathing it is likely it is actually just a muscle contraction in the chest and breathing should return to normal on its own and always check for an emergency medical bracelet that may have information on it. If a person having a seizure seizes for longer than five minutes, struggles to return to an awake and alert state, injures themselves while seizing, is pregnant, appears to be choking or has repeated seizures call 911. This year’s National Epilepsy Awareness Month’s theme is there is no NEAM with out ME. This theme was chosen to emphasize the importance of individual involvement and support.

Some ways to get involved this month is to educate yourself on epilepsy and seizures, donate to organizations such as your local foundations (Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi), CURE Epilepsy, American Epilepsy Society and SUDEP Action, who are looking for a cure and striving to raise awareness, wear purple, create a flyer, volunteer, become an epilepsy ambassador, sign up for free seizure first aid training through the epilepsy foundation, register for a walk to end epilepsy in your area, and spread awareness through social media.