Neurologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr Yusuf Zubairu, on Sunday warned that inserting objects and forcing liquid into the mouth of an epileptic person during seizure does more harm than good.
Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures, which makes a person experience abnormal behaviour, symptoms and sensations, sometimes including loss of consciousness.
Zubairu, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said 70 per cent cases of epilepsy are unknown, while other factors such as genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke, may result to it.
“Other known causes include brain infections like meningitis, cysticercosis, stroke, brain tumour, head injuries like birth injuries and accident in adults.
“Also, infection during pregnancy that affect the brains of babies, low oxygen in babies during birth and genetic conditions that result in brain injury are some of other causes of the neurological disorder,” he said.
The neurologist, therefore, advised the public to be calm, remove harmful objects, loosen tight neckwear for persons experiencing seizures.
“If a person has fallen, turn to the side and put something soft under the head.
“Never put anything in the mouth or pour water and anointing oil, but observe closely so you can provide detailed information to medical personnel,” he said.
He said certain efforts should be in place to reduce the risk of head injuries, stroke, seek antenatal care,stay healthy during pregnancy as well as practice safe delivery.
“Reduce risk of head injuries like using seat belts for adults and children, motorcycle helmets. Treat head injuries early.
“Reduce the risk of stroke by eating well, exercising, not smoking and treating hypertension.
“Seek antenatal care, stay healthy during pregnancy and practice safe delivery,” he said.
He further advised that persons who have incidences of epilepsy should seek medical attention, take their medication regularly, avoid triggers like stress, alcohol, sleep deprivation, hunger, flashes of light, caffeine and others.
The expert, therefore, called on the government to create more public enlightenment on epilepsy to dispel fear, discrimination and social stigmatisation.
“Epilepsy is not contagious and it is treatable. Anyone can be epileptic. It’s not their fault that they are. It is not a spiritual attack either,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy and an estimate of five million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year.