About Epilepsy

Generally, Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures, which is a change in the normal brain activity. It’s important to remember that these are seizures not caused by something like a high fever. However you should always tell your doctor when one occurs even if it is your first one.

Seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

There are over 40 types of epilepsy with different causes and different types of seizures. Some people even have more than one type of seizure or other medical diagnoses that can have an impact on someone’s seizures.

For 2 in 3 patients, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. Some known causes are:

  • Stroke
  • Brain Tumor
  • A head injury (a.k.a. Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain
  • Some genetic disorders (for example Down Syndrome)
  • Some neurological diseases (such as Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Brain infections

Epilepsy is not contagious, meaning you cannot give epilepsy to another person. It’s not like the common cold.

Epilepsy can be treated in different ways. Your doctor will share with you the options, but the most common treatments are medicine, surgery, special diets or electrical devices. Read more about epilepsy treatments at this page.

Epilepsy By the Numbers

1 in 26 people in the United States will have epilepsy at some point in their life.
1 in 10 Americans will have a seizure.
5.1 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder in the past.
2.9 million American adults and children live with epilepsy.
Epilepsy costs the United States about $15.5 billion in healthcare and other expenses.
60% of epilepsy cases have no known cause.
150,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year.
30-40% will live with active seizures because available treatments do not work.

Sources:
Epilepsy. (2014, July 30). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/index.html
The Epilepsies and Seizures: Hope Through Research. (2015, April 17). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/detail_epilepsy.htm