Sarah Stultz: Support local families for weeks to come

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

My heart skipped a beat Tuesday morning when I realized we would have obituaries for not one but two people in Wednesday’s paper who had died from epilepsy.

Having a son with epilepsy, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a fear of mine.

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My parents are close friends with a woman whose son died from epilepsy as an adult, and although I try to stay optimistic, it was at that time that I realized how serious this disorder can be.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy is known as the sudden, unexpected death of someone with epilepsy who was otherwise healthy.

Each year more than one in 1,000 people with epilepsy die from it, and it is the leading cause of death in people with  uncontrolled seizures.

Oftentimes, the person has passed away in his or her bed. Sometimes, it may have appeared they did not have a convulsive seizure, while other times a seizure was witnessed close to the time of death.

The exact cause of death in SUDEP cases is still unknown, though some think a seizure causes irregular heart rhythm or breathing difficulties, the foundation states.

Other deaths from epilepsy can occur with prolonged seizures and other seizure-related causes such as drowning or accidents.

I do not know these families who lost their loved ones this week and I don’t know the situations of their loved ones, but I ask that you please do what you can to support these families in the days and weeks to come. These families have likely been battling epilepsy with their loved ones for many years.

If you are able, please also consider a donation to the Epilepsy Foundation, which provides support to families with epilepsy and which aims to spread awareness and promote research to find a cure — and ultimately save lives.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.