MARCH INTO YELLOW: ENDOMETRIOSIS AWARENESS MONTH
March is going to be a colourful month! Both Endometriosis Australia (yellow) and Epilepsy Australia (purple) hold their awareness campaigns in March. You can support both causes by simply wearing either yellow or purple (or both) and sign up to raise funds that go towards education, research, and awareness.
Firstly, what is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common disease where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer in other parts of the body. The lining layer is called the endometrium and this is the layer of tissue that is shed each month with menstruation (period) or where a pregnancy settles and grows.
More than 830,000 (over 11%) of Australian women, girls, and those who are gender diverse suffer from endometriosis at some point in their life with the disease often starting in the teenage years.
Two types of problems can occur when endometriosis is present. These are: pain; and infertility (trouble becoming pregnant).
It is possible that you can have endometriosis and not have either of these problems. If endometriosis is present and it is not causing pain or problems with fertility, it does not need to be treated, though your doctor may recommend monitoring with clinical examinations (such as a pelvic examination when you have your routine Pap smear) or occasionally ultrasound and other tests if they are thought to be appropriate.
Whilst endometriosis most often affects the reproductive organs it is frequently found in the bowel and bladder and has been found in muscle, joints, the lungs, and the brain.
What kind of symptoms can be present with Endometriosis?
Common symptoms include:
- Pain that stops you on or around your period
- Pain on or around ovulation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain when you urinate
- Pain in your pelvic region, lower back, or legs
- Having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder or having to go frequently
- Heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
The only way to diagnose endometriosis is to undergo a laparoscopy and have a biopsy (tissue sample) taken. A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure, performed under general anaesthetic where a thin telescope is placed into the umbilicus (belly button). This allows your Doctor to see inside your abdomen and assess the organs of the pelvis and abdomen.
Sometimes the diagnosis is suggested without having a laparoscopy. This may be due to the fact that your Doctor can feel tissues in your pelvis that are affected by endometriosis, can see an endometriosis cyst affecting your ovary or other pelvic organ, or very occasionally see the endometriosis if it has grown through the vagina.
Remember that the only way to be 100% certain of the diagnosis is to have a laparoscopy and/or biopsy.
What is the best treatment for Endometriosis?
There is no ‘best treatment’, since treatments will work differently for everyone but you should be aware of the different kinds of treatments. They are: medication, surgery, and allied treatments involving physiotherapy, psychology, alternate medicine, etc.
Additionally, be aware of their possible side effects and/or complications. A combination of treatments can be used to assist in the relief of symptoms associated with endometriosis.
You should discuss the differences in the treatments with your Doctor before starting a treatment. There are advantages and disadvantages to all the types of treatments and you may need to have several treatments of different types before finding the right combination for you.
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis which is why Endometriosis Australia is asking Australians to March Into Yellow.
How can you make a difference?
Challenge yourself to wear yellow every day in the month of March to raise money towards endometriosis education, research and awareness!
Head to marchintoyellow.org.au to sign up for your fundraiser.
Source: Endometriosis Australia
MAKE MARCH PURPLE FOR EPILEPSY: EPILEPSY AWARENESS MONTH
A life is turned upside down by epilepsy every 33 minutes.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a tendency to have recurring seizures that are unprovoked (have no obvious cause).
All seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity somewhere in the brain and there are many types of seizures. This means epilepsy is a very broad term and seizures can look very different for each person living with epilepsy.
Epilepsy has been mentioned in literature dating back to ancient times where seizures were wrongly attributed to spirits and insanity. Scientific advances mean the causes of epilepsy are now better understood but some misunderstanding and stigma about epilepsy unfortunately persists.
Who can get Epilepsy?
Approximately 3-4% of the population will acquire epilepsy in their lifetime. One in ten people will have a seizure in their lifetime.
Anyone of any age, race, background, or intelligence level can be diagnosed with epilepsy. Diagnosis is often made in people aged under 5 and over 60 years of age as this is when the brain is developing and changing rapidly.
What causes Epilepsy?
For about half of all people diagnosed with epilepsy no specific cause is identified although there is evidence to suggest the cause is either genetic or structural.
If a cause is identified as being related to trauma to the brain, there are a number of conditions that may be contributing factors including:
- Acquired brain injury
- Loss of oxygen
- Infections of the brain
- Strokes, tumours or cysts
- Cerebrovascular degeneration
- Genetic causes – these may be familial or they may be caused by a new genetic abnormality that occurs during the earliest stage of foetal development.
How is Epilepsy diagnosed?
Diagnosing epilepsy can be difficult. It is extremely important to get a correct diagnosis and this may require several tests and may take considerable time. Questions which need to be answered to ensure a correct diagnosis include:
- Is it epilepsy or is it something else?
- If it’s epilepsy, what sort of epilepsy is it?
- Where does it start in the brain?
- Is there any structural abnormality in the brain?
For correct diagnosis a full clinical history and a good description of the seizure/s is taken, and both a physical and neurological examination will be performed.
Investigations may include an Electroencephalogram (EEG), a Computerised Tomography (CT) scan or/and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan.
How is Epilepsy treated?
Modern epilepsy medications aim to control seizures with the least amount of side effects. There are numerous medications available today so it can take time to get the correct medication regime.
The choice of medication will depend on a number of factors, including the type of seizure or syndrome. Good seizure control can be achieved in about 70% of people with epilepsy.
While medication is effective for many people, some seizure disorders are more severe and resistant to medication. Increasingly, brain surgery is an option taken by people with uncontrolled seizures, often with good results. However, surgery is not suitable for all people living with epilepsy.
Dietary therapies including the Classical and Modified Ketogenic diets may assist in limiting seizure activity. These diets must be undertaken with specialist and dietitian involvement.
What can trigger a seizure in a person with epilepsy?
It’s important to be aware of the common triggers that can cause a seizure. They include:
- Extreme changes in temperature, particularly heat
- Fever and illness
- Stopping or changing medications
- Infections, viruses or allergies
- Alcohol or other drugs including caffeine
- Hormonal changes
During the month of March, Epilepsy Queensland invites you to get involved to Make March Purple for Epilepsy. You can choose to host your own event at home, school or work, or set yourself a personal challenge. Epilepsy Queensland has a bunch of resources to get you on your way to fundraising and raising awareness for Epilepsy this March.
Simply head to epilepsyqueensland.com.au to learn more.
Source: Epilepsy Queensland