Epilepsy Resources

Common Myths About Epilepsy

There are several common myths about epilepsy:

  • You can swallow your tongue during a seizure.

It is physically impossible to swallow your tongue.

  • You should force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure.

Absolutely not! Inserting something in the person’s mouth during a seizure will potentially break teeth, injure his or her jaw, or block the airway.

  • You should restrain someone having a seizure.

Never use restraint! Restraining or holding someone down during a convulsive seizure can cause spraining or breaking of body parts.

  • Epilepsy is contagious.

You can’t catch epilepsy from another person. Period.

  • Only kids get epilepsy.

Epilepsy happens to people over age 65 almost as often as it does to children age 10 and under.

  • Epilepsy is a form of mental illness or mental disability.

No! Epilepsy is not a psychological illness, and people with epilepsy have the same range of intelligence and abilities as the rest of us.

  • Epilepsy is rare and there aren’t many people who have it.

Epilepsy is more common than many people think. In fact, 3.4 million people and their families are affected by epilepsy in the US. One in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy during their lifetime. Epilepsy is more common than Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy combined.

  • Most seizures are medical emergencies.

You do not need to call 911 for every seizure. Instances where emergency medical attention is required include: first-time seizures; a convulsive seizure lasting more than five minutes; repeated seizures without regaining consciousness; normal breathing does not resume; individual is injured, has diabetes, or is pregnant; or the seizure occurs in water.