The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke define epilepsy as a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. The seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain send out wrong signals. People may have strange sensations and emotions or behave strangely. They may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.
Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury, and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
Doctors use brain scans and other tests to diagnose epilepsy. It is important to start treatment right away. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medications can control seizures for many people. When medicines are not working well, surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators may help. Special diets can be helpful to some children with epilepsy.
- Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a disorder and is not contagious and is most prevalent among children and seniors.
- 1 out of 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy during their lifetime.
- Approximately 10 out of 1000 people in the world suffer from active seizures.
- 45,000 children under the age of 15 develop epilepsy every year.
- 3 million people in the United States and 65 million people throughout the world have epilepsy. This is more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease combined. Epilepsy in the United States is as common as breast cancer and takes as many lives.
- There are approximately 150,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed in the United States each year.
- For many soldiers suffering traumatic brain injury on the battlefield, epilepsy may be a long-term consequence.
- 70 percent of people with epilepsy can be expected to enter remission, defined as 5 or more years seizure free on medication.
- 75% of people who are seizure free on medication for 2 to 5 years can be successfully withdrawn from medication.
- Of each 10 people who have epilepsy, there are 6 where the cause is unknown.
- One third of people with epilepsy have not responded to treatment and live with uncontrollable seizures.
- The total direct and indirect cost of epilepsy in the United States is more than $15 billion annually.
To learn more about epilepsy, visit the following websites and the JoshProvides Resources page: (link the word “Resources” to the Resources page under the “Get Help” tab)