Non-Communicable Diseases, Emergency Care and Mental Health: 15. Epilepsy and Dementia

Study Session 15  Epilepsy and Dementia


People with epilepsy have recurrent seizures characterised by a brief period of involuntary shaking. Some people fail to respond to antiepileptic drugs, but more than 70% who receive treatment achieve complete freedom from seizures, usually within five years of diagnosis. Dementia is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities, causing problems with thinking, language, memory, understanding and judgement. There is no cure for dementia and symptoms tend to get worse over time. However, there are a number of effective treatments that can help people to cope better with their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Both epilepsy and dementia are common conditions and you are very likely to come across people with these illnesses in your community. In both cases, the early identification of epilepsy and dementia can have a big impact in terms of effective treatment and management of these problems. In this study session you will learn to recognise the common signs and symptoms of both conditions, the different forms they take, and their common causes. You will also discover what you can do to help people with these conditions. This is very important in Ethiopia because – as with mental illness and the other non-communicable conditions discussed in this Module – significant treatment gaps exist for epilepsy and dementia, particularly in rural areas. So providing help and support to people with these conditions will also be effective in reducing the negative effects of poverty and social inequalities within rural communities.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 15