Imagine A World Without Epilepsy
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What is Epilepsy? Fast Facts
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.
The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but often the cause is completely unknown. The word “epilepsy” does not indicate anything about the cause of the person’s seizures or their severity.
Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well. Sometimes EEG (electroencephalogram) testing, clinical history, family history, and outlook are similar among a group of people with epilepsy. In these situations, their condition can be defined as a specific epilepsy syndrome.
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Epilepsy strikes about 1% of the population by age 20, and 3% by age 75. Approximately 150,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
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Epilepsy Caregiver Tips
The most important thing you can do for a loved one with epilepsy is to be supportive. Epilepsy is a common condition. Some seizures rarely cause problems.
Overall, the chance of injury is higher for people with uncontrolled seizures. Bruises, cuts, burns, and falls are all common injuries. Less common concerns include breathing problems, drowning (due to a seizure while swimming or bathing), car accidents (many states restrict driver’s licenses for those with epilepsy), and pregnancy complications.