Epilepsy Association of Utah

Myths and Facts

Myth – When someone has seizure they can swallow their tongue.

Fact – It is physically impossible for someone having a seizure to swallow their tongue. They should be laid on their side to prevent the tongue from relaxing into the back of the throat and possibly inhibiting air flow. DO NOT PUT ANYTHING INTO THE MOUTH OF A SEIZING PERSON. An attempt to place anything into the mouth of a person in seizure can result in harm to their teeth and jaw.

Myth – People with Epilepsy are mentally challenged.

Fact – While some conditions with diminished mental state have seizures associated with them, there is no greater rate of cognitive delays than in the general population.

Myth – When someone has a seizure they stop breathing.

Fact – Seizures usually do not cause disruption of breathing for long periods of time. The person will have shallow and sometimes delayed breathing but artificial resuscitation is not necessary in most cases. It is important to time the seizure. Any seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes or when the person is ‘turning blue’ may require medical intervention. Be prepared to call for assistance but it is not usually necessary.

Myth – A person with epilepsy is ‘crazy’ or ‘possessed.

Fact – Epilepsy has been around since the dawn of man. It is a neurological condition and is not associated with any recognized psychiatric condition.

Myth – When a person is seizing you should hold them down.

Fact – During a seizure it is dangerous to attempt to hold someone down. You should be aware of what is surrounding the person and move any potentially damaging objects away.

Myth – Epilepsy is contagious.

Fact – While some illnesses can contribute to seizures, it is still not contagious. You cannot ‘catch’ Epilepsy.

Myth – Epilepsy is genetic.

Fact – In some rare cases, the condition causing the epilepsy is genetically inherited. However, those instances are not in the majority. There are genetic markers for Epilepsy but that does not mean the person will develop the condition.

Fact – Déjà vu is a form of seizure.

Fact – 1 in 26 people will develop Epilepsy in their lifetime.

Fact – 1 in 3 people know someone with Epilepsy.

Over 100 Million Americans know someone with epilepsy. And yet, seizure response is NOT taught in schools. The Epilepsy Association is pleased to offer complimentary training on proper seizure first aid.

Fact – 1 in 10 people will have at least one seizure in their lifetime.

30 Million Americans will have a seizure in their lifetime. Proper seizure response is something everyone should know!