Epilepsy

[eh-pa-lep-see]

Large group of people

Epilepsy is a common disorder of the brain that causes repeated seizures. It is sometimes called a seizure disorder.

A seizure is a short change in normal brain activity. Seizures are the main sign of epilepsy. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy when they have had two or more seizures.

There are many types of seizures. Some seizures can look like staring spells. Other seizures cause a person to fall, shake, and lose awareness of what’s going on around them.

A seizure can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Epilepsy is more common in children and older adults but can affect people of all ages.

Quiz

Key Facts

  • Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures.
  • Epilepsy affects about 3.4 million Americans.
  • About 1 out of 10 people may have a seizure during his or her lifetime, though not all will develop epilepsy.
  • There are many different kinds of epilepsy and types of seizures.
  • People with epilepsy can have an active and full life.
  • There are over 230 epilepsy centers in the United States. Health care providers at these centers specialize in managing epilepsy and provide expert care to both children and adults. For example, an “epileptologist” is a doctor who has advanced training and experience in epilepsy.

Media

Extended family

Epilepsy Affects Millions of Americans

About 3.4 million people in the United States are under treatment for epilepsy or have had recent seizures.

Young man in wheelchair

Epilepsy Poses Challenges

Many adults with epilepsy face challenges including work limitations, difficulty finding transportation, and affording medical care. Students with epilepsy are more likely to have difficulty in school, use special education services, and are less likely to participate in sports or clubs due to activity limitations.

Young family

Live Well with Epilepsy

Self-management is all the things you do to take care of yourself. Learn tips about how to manage epilepsy from CDC.

Kids in a circle

Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries

Always wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when: riding a bike, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle; or playing a contact sport such as football or ice hockey. Make living areas safer by removing tripping hazards, using non-slip mats and improving lighting throughout the home.

Pregnant woman and doctor

Get Proper Prenatal Care

Receiving proper prenatal care to avoid problems during pregnancy and childbirth may lessen complications that could lead to epilepsy.

Prevention Tips

Sometimes we can prevent epilepsy. These are some of the most common ways to reduce your risk of developing epilepsy:

More at CDC.gov

Page last reviewed: December 30, 2019