Epilepsy Facts and Stats

Key points

  • Almost 3 million U.S. adults have epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy is more common in certain populations.
  • People with epilepsy can have a hard time getting the medical care they need.
  • Health care costs for epilepsy are in the billions.
Father and son smiling for a picture outside.

The basics

Adults with epilepsy

In 2021, about 2.9 million U.S. adults 18 and older reported having active epilepsy.1

That is about 1% of all U.S. adults.

Active Epilepsy‎

Adults—an adult has active epilepsy if they were diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder and they are currently taking medicine to control it or had at least one seizure in the last 12 months (or both).

Children—a child has active epilepsy if their parent or guardian reports that a health care provider ever told them their child had epilepsy or seizure disorder, and their child currently has epilepsy or seizure disorder.2

Children with epilepsy

About 456,000 U.S. children 17 and younger have active epilepsy.2

U.S. data

Data on U.S. adults with active epilepsy are available by age group, educational level, race and ethnicity, and sex.

Seizure control and specialized epilepsy care

In a survey from 2013 and 2015, about 90% of adults with active epilepsy were taking seizure medicine. Of this group, 56% reported having at least one seizure in the past year.3

Seizure control

A person's age and where they live may affect their ability to get medical and specialized care for epilepsy.

  • Seizure control was higher among adults 65 and older (63%) than among adults 35 to 54 (40%).3
  • It was also higher among people with higher family incomes (55%) than among those with lower family incomes (33%).3
  • More people who lived in the Northeast (60%) have their seizures controlled than those who lived in the South (38%).3

Specialized health care

Whether a person receives medical care from a neurologist or an epilepsy specialist may be influenced by where they live and if there are epilepsy specialists in their community.

  • About 67% of people with active epilepsy saw a neurologist or an epilepsy specialist in the past year.3
  • Seeing a neurologist or epilepsy specialist was more common among adults 18 to 34 compared with adults 55 or older.3
  • More adults with epilepsy who saw a neurologist or specialist were taking seizure medication (95%) then those who did not see a neurologist or epilepsy specialist (78%).3
  • In the Northeast region of the United States, more people with epilepsy were getting care from a neurologist or specialist compared with those living in the Midwest, South, or West.3

Barriers to care

Adults with epilepsy have a harder time getting health care compared to adults without epilepsy.4 They were more likely to:

  • Be unable to afford any medicine or specialty care.
  • Be unable to afford dental or vision care.
  • Skip doses of medicine to save money.
  • Have trouble finding a health care provider or specialist.
  • Delay care because of transportation barriers.
  • Live in families having problems paying medical bills.
Adults waiting in line to get on the public bus.
Finding transportation and health care can be challenging for people with epilepsy.

Health care spending

Health care spending is higher for people with epilepsy or a seizure disorder, than for people without these conditions.

In 2019, the average annual health care spending for epilepsy and seizures alone was $24.5 billion in the United States.

  • Seizure costs were $19 billion.5
  • Epilepsy costs were $5.4 billion.5
  1. Kobau R, Luncheon C, Greenlund K. Active epilepsy prevalence among U.S. adults is 1.1% and differs by educational level—National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2021. Epilepsy Behav. 2023;142:109180. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2023.109180
  2. Data Research Center. 2022 National Survey of Children's Health. Accessed February 2, 2024. https://www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey/results?q=10071&r=1
  3. Tian N, Boring M, Kobau R, Zack MM, Croft JB. Active epilepsy and seizure control in adults — United States, 2013 and 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67:437–442. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6715a1
  4. Tian N, Kobau R, Zack MM, Greenlund KJ. Barriers to and disparities in access to health care among adults aged ≥18 years with epilepsy — United States, 2015 and 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;71(21):697–702. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7121a1
  5. Moura LMVR, Karakis I, Zack MM, Tian N, Kobau R, Howard D. Drivers of US health care spending for persons with seizures and/or epilepsies, 2010–2018. Epilepsia. 2022;63(8):2144–2154. doi:10.1111/epi.17305