Epilepsy is a common condition that affects the brain and causes frequent seizures.

Seizures are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works. They can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Although epilepsy can begin at any age, it typically does so in children or those over 60.

Often, it lasts a lifetime, however it occasionally gets better gradually with time.

Our brains constantly experience electrical activity as brain cells communicate with one another. An sudden increase in the level of electrical activity in the brain causes a seizure. This temporarily interferes with how the brain normally functions. The result is an epileptic seizure.

There are many different types of seizure. Depending on which area of the brain is damaged and how far the seizure activity spreads, several things might happen to a person during a seizure.

In some seizure types, the person may be awake and aware of their surroundings, but they may experience odd sensations, feelings, or movements. With other types, they might pass out and behave oddly, or they might stiffen up, drop to the ground, and twitch.

It can take some time for someone to fully recover from a seizure, and during that time they might feel disoriented.

How common is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is one of the most common, serious neurological disorders. About 630,000 persons in the UK are impacted.

Approximately 1 in 100 people in the UK suffer with epilepsy. Every day in the UK, about 80 people are given an epilepsy diagnosis.

So what causes Epilepsy?

Possible causes of epilepsy include:

  • Brain damage, for example damage caused by a stroke, head injury or infection
  • Brain tumours
  • The way the brain developed in the womb
  • Changes in a person’s genes

But in over one third of all people with epilepsy, doctors don’t know the cause.

What are the symptoms?

Seizures can affect people in lots of different ways, depending on which part of the brain is involved.

Possible symptoms include:

  • uncontrollable jerking and shaking, called a “fit”
  • losing awareness and staring blankly into space
  • becoming stiff
  • strange sensations, such as a “rising” feeling in the tummy, unusual smells or tastes, and a tingling feeling in your arms or legs
  • collapsing

How is Epilepsy diagnosed?

A doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating epilepsy should make the diagnosis.

Adults are typically seen by a neurologist, a doctor who specialises in diseases of the brain and nervous system.

A paediatrician, a doctor who specialises in treating children, or a children’s neurologist in complex cases would typically diagnose epilepsy in children.

How is Epilepsy treated?

Medicine is the main epilepsy treatment. These are sometimes referred to as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), an earlier term for anti-seizure medication (ASMs). While the medication does not treat epilepsy, it does assist to lessen the severity or halt or decrease the frequency of seizures.

Around half of all epileptics discover that the first medication they try stops their seizures. However, some patients need to test several medications before they find one that is effective for them. And some individuals must take two or more epilepsy treatments together.

Living with Epilepsy

Although epilepsy is typically a lifelong condition, most sufferers can lead normal lives as long as their seizures are under control.

Most children with epilepsy are able to attend a regular school, participate in most extracurricular activities and sports, and eventually find employment.

However, you might need to consider your epilepsy before engaging in activities including driving, performing certain jobs, swimming, taking contraception, and planning a pregnancy.

You can get advice from your doctor or support groups to help you get used to living with epilepsy.

We hope this information helps you or someone you know.

If you would like to learn more about seizures, then please book onto one of our First Aid courses by either calling us on 01276 586943 or email us at admin@crosscountiestraining.co.uk.