Epilepsy is a neurological condition otherwise known as a “seizure disorder.” It is characterized by uncontrollable and unpredictable seizures, varying in type and severity. Although the seizures originate in the brain, they can affect other parts of the body as well. It is important to note that the seizures themselves are not a disease – they are simply indicative of some issue occurring in the brain. Epilepsy can affect people of any age or gender, and its cause is usually unknown.
A person may be diagnosed with epilepsy after they have had more than one seizure not caused by a reversible medical condition. An EEG (electroencephalogram) test can help determine whether a person is likely to have another seizure. The primary goal in treating epilepsy is to control the seizures and minimize side effects. Treatment options include medication, dietary therapies, devices (both therapeutic and alerting) and the option of surgery. It is also important to inform family and friends about the condition so that they know what to do and can provide assistance in the case of a seizure.
Since seizures affect how a person appears and behaves for a length of time, epilepsy can greatly affect one’s lifestyle and even make it dangerous for the person to engage in various activities like driving. The impact it has on one’s lifestyle depends on the severity of the epilepsy and how well they respond to treatment and management of the condition. Some people have a more benign form of epilepsy and can usually carry about their daily routine, while others with a more severe form have nearly all aspects of their life affected, including school, work and social activities. Epilepsy can limit a person’s ability to function independently, causing frustration or even depression, especially as the individual grows up and enters adulthood.
Ongoing research is being done to find new methods of treatment and develop screening processes that can detect the condition earlier. Several organizations and foundations exist to provide resources, support and information to people with epilepsy as well as their family and friends.