What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent seizures. A seizure is an electrical disturbance of the brain that can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on which part of the brain is affected. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures. It is estimated to affect about 1 in 100 people.

Types of seizures

There are two main types of seizures associated with epilepsy. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain, while focal seizures affect one side. The most common type of generalized seizure is a tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizure. These seizures typically start with a sudden loss of consciousness and can cause a person to fall and convulse. Focal seizures may cause a person to appear confused and may result in involuntary jerking of a limb or other body part.

Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is usually caused by abnormal brain activity. This can be due to a genetic predisposition, a head injury, a brain tumor, or an infection such as meningitis. It is also possible for a person to develop epilepsy for no known reason.

Diagnosing and Treating Epilepsy

If you experience a seizure, it is important to see your doctor. They may order tests such as an EEG (electroencephalogram) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to further investigate the cause of the seizure. If your doctor suspects you have epilepsy, they may prescribe medication to help control the seizures.

Living with Epilepsy

It is important to take safety precautions if you have epilepsy. Certain activities such as swimming, climbing, or bicycling may need to be avoided or done with extra care. It is also important to try to identify and avoid triggers, such as sleep deprivation, stress, or flashing lights.

Managing Epilepsy

Living with epilepsy can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to manage it. Here are a few tips for managing epilepsy:

  • Make sure to take your epilepsy medication on time and as prescribed
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid situations that may be triggering
  • Pay attention to your body and look for warning signs of a seizure
  • Participate in activities that will reduce stress and improve your overall health
  • Talk to your doctor about other treatments that may help, such as lifestyle changes or alternative therapies