Epilepsie is a common misspelling for epilepsy.
- A seizure happens when abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an involuntary change in body movement or function, sensation, awareness, or behavior. A seizure can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. There are more than 20 different types of seizures.
- Symptoms experienced by a person during a seizure depend on where in the brain the disturbance in electrical activity occurs. Some seizures may be frightening to onlookers. A person having a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure may cry out, lose consciousness and fall to the ground, and have rigidity and muscle jerks. A person having a complex partial seizure may appear confused or dazed and will not be able to respond to questions or direction. Some people have seizures that are not noticeable to others. Sometimes, the only clue that a person is having an absence (petit mal) seizure is rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space.
- Epilepsy is a general term for various types of seizures. People with diagnosed epilepsy have had more than one seizure, and they may have had more than one kind of seizure.
The Burden of Epilepsy
- About 2.3 million people in the United States have some form of epilepsy.
- For the vast majority of epilepsy cases, no single cause has been determined. Seizures may be caused by head trauma, stroke, brain tumor, poisoning, infection, inherited conditions, or problems during fetal development.
- Treatment methods control seizures for about 75% of the people with epilepsy. Antiepileptic drugs are the most common form of treatment. When medication is not effective, surgery may be. Another option is vagus nerve stimulation, a recently approved therapy in which an electrical device is implanted in the affected person's shoulder to periodically stimulate a cranial nerve. For persons with certain types of seizures, a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet may reduce seizures if other treatments do not work.
Key Public Health Issues
- The goal of eliminating seizures, while at the same time preventing side effects from treatment, is achievable for most people with epilepsy. However, organized systems of care are not in place to uniformly provide services and support that will ensure the best possible quality of life for people with epilepsy.
- Surveillance data on epilepsy are limited. Little research has been done on epilepsy, in particular on how the condition affects older adults.
- People with epilepsy often struggle to overcome low self-esteem and the stigma that is attached to having epilepsy. The stigma is due in part to a lack of understanding by people they see every day - family members, schoolmates, colleagues. Some people mistakenly believe that epilepsy is a form of mental illness or mental retardation, that seizures are something to fear, that drastic first aid measures must be taken to help someone having a seizure, or that people with epilepsy cannot be valuable and productive employees.
Related LinksAmerican Epilepsy Society
reproduced from National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion