Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes recurrent seizures. Epilepsy is usually only diagnosed if a person has had more than one seizure.
If someone has epilepsy, it shouldn’t stop them from leading a normal life.
It’s important to tell your child’s school if they have epilepsy and to let the school know how you want them to respond if your child has a seizure in school.
Make sure your child has an individual healthcare plan and that this is updated every year.
The facts about epilepsy
- Approximately 500,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with epilepsy
- Epilepsy can start at any age but it most often begins during childhood
- There are many different types of epilepsy – at least 40 different types of seizure
- Having a one-off seizure doesn’t mean you have epilepsy.
What are seizures?
- Cells in the brain, called neurons, transmit information through electrical signals
- These electrical signals control the way we move, speak, think and feel
- A seizure occurs when there is a build-up of these electrical signals in the brain or if neurons fire these electrical signals abnormally
- The type of seizure a person can have varies. Some seizures may cause a ‘trance-like’ state for a few seconds or minutes, while others may cause a loss of consciousness with convulsions or fits.
What causes epilepsy?
- The causes of epilepsy can be vast, complex and hard to identify
- Sometimes epilepsy is caused genetically; passed down from one or both parents
- Sometimes it is caused by structural change in the brain. For example, if someone has a stroke or brain injury.
Common seizure triggers
While epilepsy is different for everyone, there are some general rules that can make living with the condition easier. It's important to stay healthy through regular exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and avoiding excessive drinking.
Some common seizure triggers are:
- Flashing lights.
- Epilepsy is usually treated with medication called Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AEDs)
- This medication controls seizure activity
- There are different types of AEDs designed to treat different types of seizures
- There are some other treatments, for example, surgery, for people whose seizures don’t respond to AEDs.
Separate call out
Young Epilepsy is a charity supporting children and young people with epilepsy and associated conditions, and their families.
Young Epilepsy Helpline: 01342 831342
This information has been provided by our school nurses and NHS Choices.