National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM)

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November is a busy and very important month–not only because it’s the start of the holiday season and a time to spend with family and friends–but also because it is National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM). If you’re not very familiar with epilepsy it is a neurological disorder that can affect any person regardless of age, race, or gender. It is a condition that affects about 3.4 million people in the United States with 470,000 of them being children.

According to Epilepsy Alliance Florida over 500,000 individuals in Florida alone struggle with epilepsy which makes it the top state with the most instances in the country. One of the most recognizable symptoms of epilepsy is seizures which can vary from person to person. Seizures can be mainly caused by different things such as brain injury, brain tumor, birth defect, lack of oxygen during birth, stroke, or brain infections.

A group of women supporting each other

Some Facts About Epilepsy

  • 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime
  • People who suffer from epilepsy and have frequent seizures may experience multiple daily challenges such as mood changes, sleep disruptions, thinking, and memory issues
  • Some examples of triggers to seizures include flashing lights, stress, missed medication, lack of sleep, alcohol, fever, hormonal disbalance, other illnesses/infection, overheating, hyperthermia, and other factors 
  • There are twelve different types of seizures that can occur in adults with epilepsy and it can develop at any time
  • For some children, epilepsy will be a temporary problem that can be easily controlled with medication and outgrown after a few years
  • Some children may have developmental issues with their social skills as well as a loss of self-esteem as a result of epilepsy 

Safety Procedures to Follow

  • If someone is having a seizure and they are on the ground make sure to cushion their head and turn the person gently onto one side so they can breathe. (Make sure there is nothing tight around their neck and that the surrounding area is safe to prevent any injury.)
  • Always keep yourself and others calm at all times. DO NOT put anything in the person’s mouth, try to stop their movement, or conduct mouth to mouth breaths (like CPR).
  • Most seizures last about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. But if a seizure lasts more than 5 mins it’s considered a medical emergency so you need to call 911 right away.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends and he/she is fully awake and calmly speak to them

Healthy Ways to Manage Epilepsy

These are a few ways that can help control and manage epilepsy effectively:

  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Reducing daily stress
  • Getting enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours)
  • Eating a healthy diet (such as a ketogenic diet which is highly recommended)
  • Avoid drinking alcohol excessively, tobacco, or abusing other substances
  • Exercising regularly
  • Seeing an epileptologist/neurologist frequently
  • Keeping a record of your seizures and triggers to track patterns and learn how to avoid seizure triggers
  • Use memory strategies to help with any memory problems

A woman exercising

Know That You Are Not Alone

As a first-time mother who has gone through a very scary situation earlier this year where my daughter–who was less than a year old at the time–had 4 seizures of which the cause is still unknown until this day, and whose husband has had epilepsy his entire life, I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to go through this type of situation. That is why I truly believe that it’s so important to get educated about epilepsy in order to know what steps to take in case your loved one, child, friend, etc. has epilepsy or has a seizure(s) at any given moment.

Despite my husband having epilepsy his entire life, he has still managed to overcome the odds and challenges throughout the years. And he’s been able to get ahead and live life normally. He is living proof that even with epilepsy one can accomplish many things and still live a normal life.

For those who may feel afraid, lost, alone, or don’t know what to do when helping to care for someone with epilepsy, or perhaps you yourself have epilepsy, just know that you are not alone in the struggle or journey. There are plenty of resources, help, and support available to you and your family!

Help Spread the Word

National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM) is a very important month that is often not talked about enough often because of lack of information and knowledge. Let’s get educated and help spread awareness about epilepsy during the month of November!

Resources, Community & Support

Check out these organizations to learn more about epilepsy and NEAM, and find local community and support:

Epilepsy Foundation
Epilepsy Alliance Florida
Epilepsy Alliance America

What step will you take to get educated this month? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rachel is a Cuban-American full-time working professional, wife, and first-time mother that was born and raised in Miami. She resides with her college sweetheart and Costa Rican husband of 7 years and her 9-month-old daughter. Her degree in mass communications/journalism along with her passion for writing and photography was what ultimately led her to start her very own lifestyle blog, The Cultured Local, and social media accounts which she now runs as a side hustle aside from her corporate job. When she isn’t working full-time or on her side hustle, she loves exploring her city and enjoys spending quality time with her family which includes finding fun and unique things to do together like attending a local festival or event. Rachel is currently embracing and finding happiness, joy, and fulfillment in being a first-time mother even with its challenging days and it has led her to become passionate about motherhood and parenting. Not only does she enjoy attending events put together by women, but she also loves getting to meet new people, especially mothers in the local community. Her desire is to develop lasting friendships and a support system during her new motherhood journey and to get involved in the community. It is for that reason along with her new passion for all things related to motherhood that essentially motivated her to become a Miami Mom Collective contributor! To connect and follow Rachel on her adventures and motherhood journey check out her Instagram page @culturedlocal

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