What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurologic disorder with many possible causes. Causes include illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development, however 60-70% of people with epilepsy have no known cause.

How common is Epilepsy?

According to the CDC, in 2015 1.2% of the United States population was known to have active Epilepsy. This is about 3.4 million people with epilepsy nationwide: 3 million adults and 470,000 children. According to the Epilepsy Foundation 1 in 26 people in the US will be diagnosed with Epilepsy in their lifetime.

According to a paper on the “Epidemiology of Global Epilepsy” published in Neurologic Clinics, Epilepsy affects more than 70 million people worldwide. Approximately 90% of those suffering from epilepsy are in developing regions.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can cause strange sensations, emotions, and behavior. Seizures can also cause convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.

Can kids get it?

About 470,000 children in the US under the age of 14 are living with epilepsy. Early recognition and diagnosis is key.

Can you die from epilepsy?

Yes, in fact many of these deaths are attributed to SUDEP or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy In SUDEP cases, no other cause of death is found and the person was otherwise healthy. Each year, about 1 in 1000 adults and 1 in 4500 children with epilepsy die from SUDEP.  Could be as many as 65-70,000 deaths each year. Learn more on SUDEP.

Is there more than one type of seizure?

It is estimated that there are more than 40 types of seizures. They do not all cause convulsions which makes epilepsy that much more difficult to diagnose, especially in children. In 2017, the ILAE spearheaded a new classification of seizures. This provides an update to physicians diagnosing seizure types.

Does everyone who has a seizure have epilepsy?

Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has one or more unprovoked seizures. A fever or head injury can provoke a seizure and not result in a diagnosis of epilepsy.

How do you know if you’ve had a seizure?

In my case, you know because suddenly you are on the floor when previously you were not. Oh, and you can’t explain how you got there. If you are concerned you may have had a seizure it is best to be seen by a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy. He or she will usually conduct a clinical exam. The doctor may then request an EEG and/or MRI as further evidence of their clinical findings.

What do you do if someone is having a seizure?

No compressions–they are not having a heart attack, and please don’t put any dirty old wallets (or anything else for that matter) in the person’s mouth. Just try to remember the 4 C’s of seizure first aid: stay Calm, Clear the area, Comfort the person, and Call 911.

Does epilepsy have a ribbon or a color?

Yes, the color for epilepsy awareness is purple. To get your own epilepsy awareness t-shirt for Epilepsy Awareness Month, visit Living Well Gear Shop. Or maybe epilepsy buttons are more your style.

Does epilepsy have an awareness month?

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and you may be surprised to learn that more than 3 Million Americans and 70 Million people worldwide are living with epilepsy. You should also know that epilepsy is as prevalent and as deadly as breast cancer; yet epilepsy receives 1/5 the federal funding for research when compared to breast cancer.

Below you will find personal stories from people living with epilepsy