What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

How is it diagnosed?

The first question is to find out if the person had a seizure, then the doctor will want to know the type of seizure or epilepsy syndrome that best explains the event. To do this, more information will be needed, including details of the medical history, blood tests, EEG tests, and brain imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans. This gives information about the electrical activity of the brain, what the brain looks like and possible causes of seizures. This information is put together with how the individual is feeling and how the seizures may be affecting the way the brain works.

What are the causes?

There are many different causes of epilepsy. Your doctor will do a number of investigations to look for the cause. However, in 6 out of 10 children, no cause can be found. The cause of epilepsy when known can be classified into several broad categories.

  • Genetic: There is an underlying predisposition to having seizures. However, there is often no family history of seizures.
  • Structural: There is an underlying abnormality in the brain tissue that makes seizures more likely.
  • Metabolic: The cells in the brain use energy in a way that makes them more prone to creating abnormal electrical activity.
  • Unknown

What are the symptoms?

The brain is the source of human epilepsy. Although the symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. The location of that event, how it spreads and how much of the brain is affected, and how long it lasts all have profound effect. These factors determine the character of seizure and its impact on the individual.

What are the types?

Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well.

What are some effects?

Having seizures and epilepsy can also affect one’s safety, relationships, work, driving and so much more. How epilepsy is perceived or how people are treated (stigma) often is a bigger problem than the seizures.

What are some treatments?

There are diferent types of treatment for epilepsy, including medications, surgery, or dietary changes. Only your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you.