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Epilepsy -- Myths and Facts

Myth: People with epilepsy are "epileptics."

Fact: The word "epileptic" should not be used to descrbe someone who has epilepsy, as it defines a person by one trait or problem. A label is powerful and can create a limiting and negative stereotype. It is better to refer to someone as "a person with epilepsy" or to a group of people as "people with epilepsy."

Myth: People with epilepsy are seldom brain-damaged.

Fact: Epilepsy is a disorder of brain and nerve-cell function that may or may not be associated with damage to brain structures. Brain function can be temporarily disturbed by many things, such as extreme fatigue; the use of sleeping pills, sedatives, or general anesthesia; or high fever or serious illness. "Brain damage" implies that something is permanently wrong with the brain's structure. This kind of damage may occur with severe head injury, cerebral palsy, Cerebral palsyA condition with various combinations of impaired muscle tone and strength, coordination, and intelligence.Close or stroke, or it may occur long before birth, with malformation or infection. Injuries to the brain are the cause of seizures in some people with epilepsy, but by no means all of them.

Brain injuries range from undetectable to disabling. Although brain cells usually do not regenerate, most people can make substantial recoveries. Brain damage, like epilepsy, carries a stigma, and some people may unjustly consider brain-injured patients "incompetent."

Myth: A seizure disorder is epilepsy.

Fact: Because some people fear the word "epilepsy," they use the term "seizure disorder" in an attempt to separate themselves from any association with it. However the term seizure disorder means the same thing as epilepsy. A person has epilepsy or a seizure disorder if he or she has had two or more seizures that "come out of the blue" and are not provoked—even if the problem first develops in adulthood or is known to be caused by something like a severe head injury or a tumor.

Myth: Seizures cause brain damage.

Fact: Single tonic-clonic seizures lasting less than 5-10 minutes are not known to cause brain damage or injury. However, there is evidence that more frequent and more prolonged tonic-clonic seizures may in some patients injure the brain. Prolonged or repetitive complex partial seizures (a type of seizure that occurs in clusters without an intervening return of consciousness) also can potentially cause long-lasting impairment of brain function.

Some people have difficulty with memory and other intellectual functions after a seizure. These problems may be caused by the aftereffects of the seizure on the brain, by the effects of seizure medicines, or both. Usually, however, these problems do not mean that the brain has been damaged by the seizure. There may be a cumulative, negative effect of many tonic-clonic or complex partial seizures on brain function, but this effect appears to be rare.

Myth: People with epilepsy are usually cognitively challenged.

Fact: People with epilepsy usually are not intellectually challenged. Many people mistakenly believe that people with epilepsy are also intellectually or developmentally challenged. In the large majority of situations, this is not true. Like any other group of people, people with epilepsy have different intellectual abilities. Some are brilliant and some score below average on intelligence tests, but most are somewhere in the middle. They have normal intelligence and lead productive lives. Some people, however, may have epilepsy associated with brain injuries that may cause other neurological difficulties that affects their thinking, remembering, or other cognitive CognitivePertaining to the mental processes of perceiving, thinking, and remembering; used loosely to refer to intellectual functions as opposed to physical functions.Closeabilities. The cognitive problems may be the only problem in most people. Less frequently, some people have other developmental problems that can affect the way they function and live.

Myth: People with epilepsy are violent or crazy.

Fact: The belief that people with epilepsy are violent is an unfortunate image that is both wrong and destructive. People with epilepsy have no greater tendency toward severe irritability and aggressive behaviors than do other people.

Many features of seizures and their immediate aftereffects can be easily misunderstood as "crazy" or "violent" behavior. Unfortunately, police officers and even medical personnel may confuse seizure-related behaviors with other problems. However, these behaviors merely represent semiconscious or confused actions resulting from the seizure. During seizures, some people may not respond to questions, may speak gibberish, undress, repeat a word or phrase, crumple important papers, or may appear frightened and scream. Some are confused immediately after a seizure, and if they are restrained or prevented from moving about, they can become agitated and combative. Some people are able to respond to questions and carry on a conversation fairly well, but several hours later they cannot remember the conversation at all.

Myth: People with epilepsy are mentally ill.

Fact: Epilepsy is not the same as mental illness and in fact, the majority of people with seizures do not develop mental health problems. Yet recent research is showing that problems with mood, such as anxiety and depression, may be seen more frequently than previously thought. The causes are not always known. In some people, the cause and location of the seizures may affect certain brain areas and contribute to mood problems. In others, side effects of treatments and the challenges of living with epilepsy may affect a person's feelings and behavior. If these problems occur, a variety of treatments are available.

Myth: Epilepsy is necessarily inherited.

Fact: Most cases of epilepsy are not inherited, although some types are genetically transmitted (that is, passed on through the family). Most of these types are easily controlled with seizure medicines.

Myth: Epilepsy is a life-long disorder.

Fact: Generally, people with epilepsy have seizures and require medication for only a small portion of their lives. About 60 % of people who develop seizures have epilepsy that can be easily controlled and is likely to remit or go away. However, about 25 % may develop difficult to control seizures and likely will require lifelong treatment. More than half of childhood forms of epilepsy are outgrown by adulthood. With many forms of epilepsy in children and adults, when the person has been free of seizures for 1 to 3 years, medications can often be slowly withdrawn and discontinued under a doctor's supervision.

Myth: Epilepsy is a curse.

Fact: Epilepsy has nothing to do with curses, possession, or other supernatural processes, such as punishment for past sins. Like asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, epilepsy is a medical problem.

Myth: Epilepsy should be a barrier to success.

Fact: Epilepsy is perfectly compatible with a normal, happy, and full life. The person's quality of life, however, may be affected by the frequency and severity of the seizures, the effects of medications, reactions of onlookers to seizures, and other disorders that are often associated with or caused by epilepsy.

Some types of epilepsy are harder to control than others. Living successfully with epilepsy requires a positive outlook, a supportive environment, and good medical care. Coping with the reaction of other people to the disorder can be the most difficult part of living with epilepsy.

Acquiring a positive outlook may be easier said than done, especially for those who have grown up with insecurity and fear. Instilling a strong sense of self-esteem in children is important. Many children with long-term, ongoingic illnesses—not only epilepsy but also disorders such as asthma or diabetes—have low self-esteem. This may be caused in part by the reactions of others and in part by parental concern that fosters dependence and insecurity. Children develop strong self-esteem and independence through praise for their accomplishments and emphasis on their potential abilities.

Famous people with epilepsy include Julius Caesar, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Tchaikovsky, Van Gogh, Dostoyevski, Dickens, Dante, da Vinci, Mozart and Alfred Nobel.


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Caffeine and Pregnancy

Now that you are pregnant, it is important to ensure that both you and your baby stay strong and healthy. Though it may be difficult, this is the time to give up all those bad habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption. It is also a good idea to give up food or beverages that contain caffeine. Though you may be hesitant to give up your morning cup of coffee, caffeine has been associated with a number of prenatal risks. When consumed in high doses, caffeine has even been linked with increased rates of miscarriage.

What is Caffeine?
Though many of us don�t realize it, caffeine is actually a drug, much like nicotine and alcohol. It is also addictive, which is why so many people crave their coffee and cola! Caffeine, also known as guareine and mateine, is a naturally-occurring substance found in a number of plants, beans, and seeds. It acts as a stimulant on our central nervous system, and is absorbed into our bloodstream just 15 minutes after intake. When absorbed in large quantities, caffeine can cause a number of adverse physical reactions.

Where is Caffeine Found?
Though most of us associate caffeine with tea and coffee, it is also found in a number of other foods and beverages, including:

* colas
* hot chocolate
* chocolate
* various nuts

Caffeine is also found in certain medications, particularly those for migraine headaches, and in some dietary supplements.

What are the Effects of Caffeine?
If you notice yourself feeling jittery after you have has a lot of coffee or tea, there�s a good reason for it. Caffeine can cause a number of physical side effects, including:

* increased heart rate
* increased blood pressure
* increased sweat production

Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. This means that it causes you to lose fluid from your body, which can leave you dehydrated and fatigued. If your body absorbs too much caffeine, it is possible to go into "caffeine overdose," which causes symptoms of nausea and lightheadedness, as well as respiratory problems.

Effects of Caffeine on Your Baby
Caffeine is thought to pose certain risks during pregnancy. Though researchers debate how much caffeine is acceptable during pregnancy, there is evidence to suggest than any amount will cause some physical effects on your little one. This is because caffeine passes through your placenta and is absorbed by your baby. Adults are able to break down caffeine fairly quickly, thanks to chemicals inside of our body. However, your developing baby can�t do this as efficiently. This means that caffeine will be stored inside of his blood for longer periods of time, and could reach dangerously high levels.

Caffeine also affects other aspects of your baby�s health. It is known to increase your baby�s heart rate and may affect how much he moves in utero. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it can also affect the nutrition your baby receives from you. Caffeine intake may cause you to absorb less iron and calcium from foods, a possible detriment to your baby�s overall fetal development.

Coffee and Miscarriage
Recent studies have focused on the effects of coffee intake during pregnancy. A large-scale Danish study polled more than 80,000 pregnant women regarding their coffee intake. This study found that women who drank large amounts of coffee during pregnancy were more likely to experience a miscarriage. Women who drank more than 2 cups of coffee a day had a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, while those that drank 8 or more cups experienced a 59% increase. This is why it is so important to watch your caffeine intake during pregnancy.

Interestingly, this Danish study found that this considerably greater risk of miscarriage was specific to coffee. Other caffeinated beverages and foods did not present the same significant increase, leading researchers to believe that other chemicals contained in coffee could possibly play a role in causing miscarriage.

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
Most health care providers suggest eliminating all caffeinated foods and beverages from your pregnancy diet. Yet, some pregnant women find this especially difficult, particularly because so many food items contain small amounts of caffeine. If you are finding it hard to eliminate all caffeine from your diet, one caffeinated beverage or food item once in awhile probably won�t make much difference to your baby�s health. However, it is important to realize that caffeine does pose a risk to your little one, especially in large amounts, so work to reduce that caffeine intake.

Tips on Reducing Caffeine Intake
Just as quitting smoking and drinking can be difficult, it can also be hard to eliminate caffeine from your daily diet. After all, caffeine is an addictive drug. Here are some tips on how to reduce your caffeine intake and ensure that you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

* Cut back on your caffeine intake slowly. Going cold turkey can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms, like headaches and nausea.
* Try replacing your caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated ones, like decaf coffee.
* Exercise regularly to help combat any withdrawal symptoms and to stay energized.
* Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will help you manage cravings and fatigue.


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The History of Tea: Health and Healing Properties

For more than 4000 years now, tea has been a faithful staple in many cultures and countries around the world. Used as a sustaining liquid for those suffering from infectious disease, there are many believers who have always asserted that tea holds powerful healing properties. In some cases, they believe that tea can actually cure ailments and sickness. New emerging studies are elevating these assumptions from myth to scientific reality, providing significant evidence that tea is indeed a source of health and contains legitimate healing properties.

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, second only to water, and in many parts of the world, green and black teas are mass produced from the plant Camilla Sinensis. Because of the way the beverage is brewed, it is also one of the safest beverages made on the planet. This is because it is made with boiling water until it is sterile. It is this process that eradicates just about every type of bacteria or virus commonly found in water.

For centuries, tea has not only helped promote health, it also has served as a as a social outlet (tea time), battlefield sedative (the British for years served their wounded tea on the battle field as a way to calm them), and has played a major role in at least one revolution (the Boston Tea Party).

Pirates used to raid tea ships and bounties were put on these pirates’ heads, sometimes even surpassing the bounties placed on pirates that raided gold and silver ships. Rumor has it that this beverage was so popular in England and the colonies that during the American War for Independence, tea was still served in many of the thirteen colonies under a collection of aliases.

Throughout this time, however, tea was also believed to possess qualities that promoted good health and it was believed that tea could help a sick or injured person heal. For centuries, this was merely attributable to antidotal experience, with no scientific foundation on which to base those beliefs. Recently, however, detailed research done by an array of colleges, universities, and research centers have focused on teas positive properties.

Japan and China initially carried out the lion-share of this research, which primarily focused on their tea-of-choice: green tea. Europe and the United States, though, have begun to get in on the act, focusing on green and black tea and the results have been nothing short of astounding.

Not only have many of the alleged healthful properties been certified, researchers have also identified other, previously unknown qualities of tea that have proven that the beverage possesses qualities that can fight cancer, ward off tumors, and prevent the introduction of free radicals into the body.

This results of these tests indicated that because teas possess a high level of the antioxidant tea polyphenols, it is a great disease fighter. Research has shown that not only can tea fight cancer and ward off tumors and other defects; it also is can reduce the risk of heart disease.

As researchers have discovered these properties, they also have been able to map out the chemical composition of tea and pinpoint what they believe are the critical properties of this near wonder-drug.

These findings have allowed researchers to begin to understand what makes tea so effective in healing and promoting health. The most productive tests have come in the form of multi-disciplinary approaches, which consider data from epidemiology and field studies, laboratory tests in animals and historical accounts that are compared to current testing results. Researchers have tested tea against many different ailments and the results have shown that it is one of the most effective methods that a person can employ to ensure that they are able to adequately fight against any of these sicknesses. The jury, however, is still out, as tea’s potential is only just now beginning to be understood.

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Safe Sex VS Safer Sex

For a time, the use of condoms and other contraceptives was often referred to as "safe sex". It was thought that, as long as you used condoms along with another method of birth control, you were virtually immune from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. Nowadays, the only type of safe sex is no sex at all.

What is Safe Sex?

When people speak of "safe sex" today, they are referring to abstinence. Abstaining from sex and sexual play is the only sure method to avoid catching an STD and to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Although it may not prevent a pregnancy, having sex within a committed, monogamous, long-term relationship with someone who has tested free of any STDs is also generally considered to be safe sex.

So why isn’t using condoms along with other forms of birth control known as "safe sex" anymore but as "safer sex" instead? Because contraceptives can fail, resulting in pregnancy, and condoms cannot provide protection against all forms of STDs. However, condoms are still the only and best protection we have against most STDs. Therefore, it is important to use them every time you have sex.

What’s the Big Deal About STDs Anyway?

While some sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia, can be cured, others cannot. HIV is one of the most serious STDs out there and women are one of the fastest growing groups being infected. Moreover, according to UNICEF, half of all new HIV cases worldwide occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24. So if you’re young and sexually active, you’re automatically at a higher risk of being infected with HIV. Although it can be managed through medication, the HIV virus does eventually develop into AIDS leading to death. Other incurable STDs include human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the cause of genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer and even death,hepatitis B and herpes.

Sexually transmitted diseases are dangerous for anyone but they can have especially severe consequences in women. Many STDs can seriously damage your reproductive organs causing you to be infertile. Some, like HPV, have been linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer, a type of cancer that men do not need to worry about. Additionally, if you have an STD while you are pregnant, it is possible to pass the infection on to your baby causing her to become sick or possibly even die.

If you are sexually active, it is imperative that you use condoms each and every time you have sex even though they cannot protect you from every STD. Latex or polyurethane condoms are the most effective at protecting against STDs. However, they cannot provide protection against infections that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Additionally, condoms can break or fall off during sex, putting you at risk of catching an STD. While it was once thought that condoms treated with spermicide helped to kill off STD infections and viruses, current research suggests that spermicides have no such effect. In fact, using spermicides multiple times throughout the day has actually been shown to increase your risk of STDs because the chemicals can irritate your vaginal lining thereby making it easier for an infection to get into your system.

Talking with Your Partner

When you are considering becoming sexually active with someone, talk to them about their sexual history. Remember, when you have sex with someone, you are having sex with every person they have ever had sex with. It is a good idea for both of you to go get tested for STDs so that you can be sure you are both free of any infections. However, some STDs can take as long as six months before they begin to affect you. If your partner has had sex with someone else in the last six months, it is a good idea to either put off having sex or use condoms until he can be retested.

If your partner refuses to get tested or has no desire to talk about his sexual history, you may want to reconsider your choice to have intercourse with him. Never feel guilty for asking about his sexual past. Your health, as well as his, is on the line and you both have a right to know what you’re getting into. Never allow yourself to be pressured, coerced or bullied into a sexual relationship. Do not hesitate to say no. If a your partner forces you to have sex after you’ve said no, that is rape and should be reported to the authorities.

Signs of an STD
If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist right away to be tested for STDs:

* Vaginal itching
* Burning sensation when you urinate
* Unusual vaginal discharge
* Blisters around the genital area
* General pain in the pelvic area


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