It's a sad truth — epilepsy has no cure.
This means more than 50,000 people in B.C., many of whom call the Tri-Cities home, are set to live with their diagnosis for the foreseeable future.
The BC Epilepsy Society (BCES) explained one in 12 people impacted by the disease will experience at least one seizure in their lifetime, caused by excessive discharges of electrical impulses in the brain.
In the meantime, as experts continue to research more effective treatments, the provincial organization has partnered with local municipalities for an annual global awareness campaign to show support for epileptic residents.
On Sunday night (March 26), five landmarks in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody will shine purple for International Purple Day in hopes of bringing awareness to the disease.
- Port Coquitlam City Hall (pictured)
- Port Moody City Hall
- Coquitlam's Pinetree Way statue
- Coquitlam's SkyTrain guiding pillars
- Lafarge Lake fountain
As well, the City of Port Coquitlam recently proclaimed Sunday as Purple Day in the community.
Some causes unknown
The BCES said there are specific medications that fight symptoms in efforts to control seizures.
However, the non-profit added that research opportunities are needed as 70 per cent of all epilepsy diagnoses have unknown causes.
The other 30 per cent have factors that include stroke, brain tumours and genetics.
"There are over 40 different types of seizures that affect consciousness, movement, sensation, and behaviours," the BCES said, noting the seizures can vary in frequency and severity.
Results of an episode can include a complete loss of consciousness, stuck in a trance-like state, altered sensations or being unable to speak.
"In some people with epilepsy, seizures happen only occasionally; for others, it may happen up to hundreds of times a day."
Someone is having a seizure. What can I do?
The BC Epilepsy Society lists the following steps of how to respond and tend to someone experiencing a seizure:
- Stay calm
- Protect the person from injury
- Cushion their head
- Move objects out of their way
- Loosen anything tight around their neck
- Remove their glasses (if any)
- Gently turn the person onto their side as soon as possible
- Stay with the person until consciousness is fully regained
- Be reassuring and comforting afterwards
- Never put anything in the person’s mouth
- It could break their teeth or block their airway
- A person cannot swallow their tongue during a seizure
- Do not restrain or hold the person down
- After the seizure, talk gently to comfort and reassure the person
The society adds an ambulance should be called if any of the following applies:
- A seizure lasts for more than five minutes
- There are repeated seizures
- It's a first-time seizure (i.e., no known history)
- If a person is injured, pregnant or has diabetes
For more information, you can visit the BC Epilepsy Society's website.