National Epilepsy Awareness Month – November 2019

November

What is National Epilepsy Awareness Month

National Epilepsy Awareness Month in November is an annual event that teaches people about epilepsy’s causes and symptoms. One in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point during their lifetime. Epilepsy is one of the least understood of all the neurological diseases, yet it is the fourth most common. During this month, many organizations join together to provide information about prevention, treatment, research, and resources to fight epilepsy.

History

Epilepsy, unfortunately, has a long history of misunderstanding and stigmatism. Evidence of individuals suffering epilepsy in ancient history attributed it to spiritual or demonic possession. In fact, Hippocrates, the great Roman medical practitioner, shunned the notion that it was a supernatural phenomena and believed that it derived from the brain, had hereditary aspects, and that how it presented itself in childhood also determined how it affected the rest of the individual’s life. 
 
Unfortunately, Hippocrates wasn’t believed until well into the 17th century, when the notion that it wasn’t demonic or spiritual possession finally subsided. But, the stigma associated with it continues to this day. One of the goals of National Epilepsy Awareness Month is to separate the disease from its historical and false reputations. Many countries still believe that it’s a sign of spiritual possession and, until 1980, individuals suffering from epilepsy weren’t allowed to marry in the United States. 

National Epilepsy Awareness Month timeline

​1990

Workplace discrimination policies

These are a series of official employment statutes designed to remove prejudice against working people with epilepsy.

​1980

​People with epilepsy finally allowed to marry in the U.S.

​The stigma is a troubling one — especially when you consider that for years Americans with epilepsy were denied the right to marry.

​1912

​Phenobarbital became the first modern epilepsy treatment

​Phenobarbital, one of the most commonly used medicines to contain or reduce seizures, became the first modern treatment for epilepsy.

​1850

The Queen of England's doctor treated epilepsy

​​Queen Victoria's obstetrician introduced potassium bromide as a way to successfully treat epilepsy.

National Epilepsy Awareness Month FAQs

What month is Epilepsy Awareness Month?

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. 
 

Why is purple the color of epilepsy?

Because in order to help prevent seizures, individuals need to be able to relax the brain and nervous system. Linalool, the terpene most prominent in lavender, has that effect, which is why lavender (or purple) is the official color of epilepsy. 
 

Is having epilepsy a disability?

While many of the individuals who suffer from epilepsy may be able to “control” their seizures, or don’t consider themselves disabled, epilepsy is covered under the Equality Act. 
 

What color ribbon is for seizures?

Lavender, or purple, is the international color recognized for those who suffer from epilepsy.
 

How to Observe National Epilepsy Awareness Month

  1. Register for an epilepsy walk

    Communities all over the country will raise funds in a variety of ways including walks. One of the largest is the upcoming 2019 Epilepsy Walk at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But wherever you choose to walk, remember that you are helping to fight a debilitating disease that affects people of all ages and ethnicities. So, put on your best sneakers and join your friends for a walk to benefit a very good cause.

  2. Add a name to a Remembrance Wall

    The Epilepsy Foundation has a Remembrance Wall where you can add the name of a loved one who has passed away from epilepsy or its related causes. You can also establish a sort of wall on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Ask your friends, family, and anyone else you know who has been affected by epilepsy to sign in the memory of someone else. It's a beautiful and healing thing to do.

  3. Break out the purple.

    Each evening, let a purple light shine in your window. Tie purple ribbons around that old oak tree. Bake purple cupcakes and make purple pancakes. Wear a purple pin. Got enough ideas now?

5 Things You Never Knew About Epilepsy

  1. Anyone can have a seizure

    ​People with epilepsy are not the only ones to suffer seizures; your risk may increase if you have high fever, low blood sugar, are undergoing drug or alcohol withdrawal — or even if you're experiencing a concussion following head trauma.

  2. ​It might be random

    Two-thirds of people who suffer from epilepsy have no specific cause for their condition.

  3. ​Vincent Van Gogh may have had seizures

    ​Art and medical historians speculate that Van Gogh's use of yellow in his paintings resulted from xanthopsia, a condition where the sufferer sees life through a yellow filter. Xanthopsia was a side effect of digitales, a medication used to treat epilepsy.

  4. ​It's a myth that you can swallow your tongue during a seizure

    ​When someone has a seizure, carefully roll them on their side because if you try to put something in their mouth during a seizure, the person can injure their jaw, chip teeth or damage their gums.

  5. ​It can be fatal

    People with epilepsy who fall, lose consciousness, or have lengthy successions of seizures can die.

Why National Epilepsy Awareness Month is Important

  1. It affects the brain

    Epilepsy is a neurological condition in the brain that triggers seizures. Doctors believe that a brain's uncontrolled increase of excess electrical activity hampers its normal functions — causing a short interruption to messages traveling back and forth within the brain. This interruption causes epileptic seizures.

  2. It causes different types of seizures

    Seizures don't affect everyone the same way. The symptoms range from rapidly blinking eyes to someone going into a state where they stare blankly for a few minutes. Some people suffer a short interval of confusion. The more serious seizures involve falling to the ground with strong muscle contractions followed by a brief disorientation.

  3. It can attack randomly

    There are two kinds of epilepsy — crytogenic and idiopathic. Crytogenic people with epilepsy have no clearly identifiable cause for their condition. Idiopathic people with epilepsy show no neurological disorder, but these sufferers have symptoms consistent with people who are officially diagnosed with epileptic syndromes.

National Epilepsy Awareness Month dates
YearDateDay
2019November 1Friday
2020November 1Sunday
2021November 1Monday
2022November 1Tuesday
2023November 1Wednesday