What Is Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that results in seizures, or brief surges of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy affects approximately 1 to 2 out of 100 people. This means that between 27,000 and 55,000 individuals in the eleven counties served by the Epilepsy Association are affected by epilepsy. Epilepsy affects individuals equally regardless of age, race, gender, or national origin. There are two peak rates of incidence: among children, and among elderly individuals.
The medical community has identified more than 40 different types of seizures, and the different seizure types result in a wide range of physical symptoms. In 70% of cases there is no known cause of epilepsy. The most common known cause of epilepsy is a head injury, and seizures can also result from infections, tumors, strokes, poisoning, and maternal injury.
Currently there is no cure for epilepsy. While medications, surgery, and other treatment options control seizures in many cases, approximately 25% people with epilepsy probably take multiple medications and still experience seizures that interfere with their ability to lead a normal life.
Epilepsy can be difficult to live with because of the chronic and episodic nature of seizures, and because individuals often present unusual behaviors during a seizure. Many people with epilepsy or seizure disorders are affected by the stigma and misunderstanding that still persists among the general public due to a relatively low awareness of seizures. Research has shown that adults who experience seizures often show higher levels of depression and underemployment, and families of children with epilepsy often show higher levels of family disintegration.
If epilepsy affects you or someone you know, and you have questions, please contact the Epilepsy Association at 216-579-1330.