Epilepsy

Facts and Information

WHO

65 Million: Number of people around the world who have epilepsy.

Over 2 Million: Number of people in the United States who have epilepsy.

1 in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.

Between 4 and 10 out of 1,000: Number of people on earth who live with active seizures at any one time.

150,000: Number of new cases of epilepsy in the United States

One-Third: Number of people with epilepsy who live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatment works for them.

6 out of 10: Number of people with epilepsy where the cause is unknown.

50,000: Number of people who die from epilepsy-related causes in the United States every year.

Epilepsy currently affects more than 300,000 children under the age of 15.

WHAT

Causes in Children and Adults:

  • Congenital conditions (Down Syndrome; Angel's syndrome; tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis)
  • Genetic factors (Primary seizure disorders)
  • Progressive brain disease (rare)
  • Head trauma


Symptoms to look for:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Staring
  • Unusual feelings, twitching
  • Jerking
  • Convulsions



When: seizures can happen at anytime.

WHERE

WHY

The human brain is the source of epilepsy. Although the symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. The location of that event, the extent of its reach with the tissue of the brain, and how long it lasts all have profound effects.


Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce sudden bursts of electrical energy that disrupt other brain functions. Having a single seizure does not necessarily mean a person has epilepsy. High fever, severe head injury, lack of oxygen - a number of factors can affect the brain enough to cause a single seizure. Epilepsy on the other hand, is an underlying condition or permanent brain injury, that affects the delicate system which govern how electrical energy behaves in the brain, making it susceptible to recurring seizures.

HOW

Triggers of epilepsy include:


  • Medication (missed doses, adding/removing medication from daily doses, etc).
  • Excessive use and withdrawal from alcohol or drugs may trigger seizures, as can illness or fever.
  • Emotional stressors such as worry, anxiety and anger may cause seizures, especially if combined with fatigue or chronic sleep loss.
  • In contrast, reflex epilepsyis a condition in which seizure can be provoked by an extermal stimulus (flashing lights) or, occasionally , by an internal mental process (mathematical calculations).
  • For the most part, once triggers have been identified, exposure can be limited, and that is the typical treatment, along with standard anti-seizure medications.