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What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a generic term used to define a variety of seizure disorders. A person who has recurrent seizures (two or more) is said to have Epilepsy.

What is a Seizure?

A seizure is a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain, resulting in a change in consciousness, movement, behavior, perception and/or sensation.

What causes Epilepsy?

In about 70% of cases, there is no known cause for seizures. In the remaining 30%, known causes include:

  • Head trauma
  • Brain tumor or stroke
  • Birth injury
  • Poisoning
  • Infections

What treatments are available?

  • Anti-Epileptic Drugs
  • Surgery (ex. Vagus nerve stimulator, brain surgery)
  • Diet (ex. Ketogenic diet)
  • Other experimental techniques

Is Epilepsy a disease?

Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a sign or symptom of an underlying neurological disorder.

When was Epilepsy discovered?

Epilepsy is the oldest known brain disorder. It was mentioned more than 2,000 years before Christ. References can be found in ancient Greek texts and in the Bible.

How many people have Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is more common than most of us realize. 1 in every 100 Americans has Epilepsy.

Is Epilepsy inherited?

In most cases Epilepsy is not inherited. In a few cases the tendency towards Epilepsy might be inherited, but even with this tendency certain conditions must exist in the brain before a person will experience epileptic seizures.

How is Epilepsy diagnosed?

Observing and recording seizure activity is essential in the diagnosis of Epilepsy. Details such as: time of day, what took place before the seizure occurred, was the person’s body rigid, change in breathing, and length of the seizure can be very important in the diagnosis. In addition an electroencephalogram (EEG), computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, magnetic resonance imager (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) scan may be used.

Is there a cure for Epilepsy?

There is no known “cure” for Epilepsy. Medications can often control seizures, but they are not a cure. Some forms of Epilepsy occur only in childhood, and the person is said to have outgrown the seizures. In some cases there is a spontaneous remission of the seizure disorder. Sometimes, surgery to remove the part of the brain in which the seizures originate can produce a complete and permanent stop to the seizures.