Fact checking. One of the very first skills a journalist learns. It is essential in ensuring we are reporting truth, not fake news.

Did you know people with epilepsy are at risk of swallowing their tongue during a seizure?

You did? Actually, you didn't. It is a myth.

People with epilepsy, or in fact anyone, can not physically swallow their tongue. Fake news.


I can guarantee this because I'm on a first-name basis with epilepsy. And I really dislike fake news, especially about epilepsy.

I had epilepsy as a child. Key word: Had. Another one of the 'facts' is that once you have epilepsy, you've got it for life. Wrong. People can grow out of epilepsy and I am one of the lucky ones who has.

I have been told this by medical professionals, so I can trust these facts. I have fact checked.

Medical professionals - better sources of medical facts than your great aunt who has heard it from her neighbour, who saw it online...

There are so many wrong details floating around about epilepsy that the real information is clouded. I can't help but cringe.

As a journalist, not only do I know how to fact check, I also get to write a column and share my knowledge with you.

Epilepsy - the facts and the fiction.

First off, epilepsy is not contagious. You can hang out with me and you won't drop to the floor having a seizure. However, you may end up rolling around in laughter because I am a delight to hang out with.

Seizures aren't always as you might imagine. It isn't always a visible convulsion. Someone could be having a seizure right in front of you and you couldn't tell. This is called an absent seizure, one of the many types of seizures people experience.

Epilepsy is a common disorder, so common that globally 65 million people have it. It isn't rare and it isn't just kids. People of all ages can have epilepsy.

Never restrain someone from having a seizure, or stick something in their mouth to stop them from biting their tongue.

A seizure will run its course. Clear space and move them to safety if need be.

Call an ambulance if you're unsure, if the convulsions are lasting for longer than five minutes and if the person is having back-to-back seizures.

There is no answer to whether or not dogs can sense seizures. However, dogs can comfort and lessen stress which may cause a seizure. Dogs can also signal for help during long seizures.

There may not be always be a journalist around who has gone through an experience and who can tell you the facts, so here's how to fact check.

Where is the information coming from? A dodgy website, click bait or a random comment?

Before repeating it, fact check. See if it's mentioned somewhere else that's reliable. If it isn't then it is probably fake news.

Fact checking makes all the difference and ensures you are relaying true information. Rather than going off something you heard, check for yourself and make sure what you're saying isn't fake news.