Frequently Asked Questions About Epilepsy

What is epilepsy?

The International League Against Epilepsy defines epilepsy as having an unprovoked seizure and having a high risk of another unprovoked seizure (greater than 60% chance) without treatment.

This condition can profoundly impact daily life and activity. People with uncontrolled epilepsy also have a higher mortality rate than the general population.

Fortunately, many can manage seizures effectively and live a normal life with this condition when given the right treatment and management.

Is epilepsy common?

Approximately 3.4 million people in the US have epilepsy.

  • Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders among children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with epilepsy before age 10.
  • Though it is less likely to develop epilepsy in adulthood. About 48 out of 100,000 adults will develop the disease, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a disruption of the regular electrical network in the brain, which causes the brain to issue aberrant signals to the rest of the body.

Different types of seizures can appear very differently. Often, we think of the whole body shaking and foaming at the mouth (which is how seizures are commonly portrayed in movies), which does happen.

Seizures can, also, be much subtler, such as an unusual smell, déjà vu, a rising sensation in the stomach, and other feelings.

Seizures are not rare. Approximately 10% of the population in the United States will experience at least one seizure in their lifetime. With proper, specialized care, seizures can be treated and managed effectively.

If you happen to witness someone having a seizure, try to prevent them from falling onto the ground and slowly lower them safely to the ground. Position the person on their side. Do not put anything into their mouth or you may risk injuring yourself. Immediately call 911 and stay with the person until paramedics arrive.