Updated 15 June 2015

Focus on epilepsy


If you had to guess how many people suffered from epilepsy in South Africa, what would your guess be? 50 000? 150 000? 500 000?

If you guessed 500 000, you are right. It's a staggering number and effectively means one in every one hundred South Africans have the disease.

It also means you're likely to witness a person having an epileptic seizure at some point in your life. To raise awareness of this frightening (but manageable) and often stigmatized disease during National Epilepsy Week we take a look at:

What to do if someone has an epileptic seizure:

  Do your best to stay calm. Understanding what is taking place should help you to do this.

  Try to prevent injury by ensuring that there is nothing nearby or within reach that could harm the person.

  Be sure to keep yourself out of harm's way if the individual is thrashing and writhing around vigorously. There is no need to try and restrain anyone who is having a seizure.

  Call emergency services. 

  Do not put anything in the person's mouth.

  Once the individual's seizure has stopped place them in the recovery position. Turn the person's head so any vomit can easily drain from their mouth and make sure they are breathing normally.

  Do not give the person liquids, medication or food until they are fully alert.

  Stay with the person until he or she recovers, which should be within five to 20 minutes.

Remember that the great majority of epileptics respond well to treatment, so anyone who is suffering from the condition should be encouraged to visit their doctor. And if you're affected by epilepsy medication stockout in your area, contact

Image: brain neurons, Shutterstock


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