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Epilepsy: Introduction

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the nerves in the brain communicate abnormally with each other. This results in a variety of types of recurring seizures. Epilepsy, also called a seizure disorder, is a common condition, affecting about three million people in the U.S., according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Epilepsy occurs when a surge of electrical signals from one cluster of nerve cells, called neurons, temporarily overwhelm other neurons in the brain. This results in different types of epilepsy and a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the area of the brain affected and how much of the brain is affected.

The there are many types and sub types of epilepsy. These include grand mal seizures, petit mal seizures, simple partial seizures, and complex partial seizures. There is also a type of disorder called nonepileptic seizures, in which there is no abnormal brain activity.

The cause of epilepsy is unknown in about half of the people with the disorder. Identifiable causes include head injuries, dementia, and medical conditions and diseases that can cause brain damage, such as stroke, meningitis, cerebral palsy, and autism. There is also a hereditary link to some forms of epilepsy.

The symptoms of epilepsy vary greatly depending on the type of seizure, the individual person, and other factors. The symptom of jerking, convulsive seizures is not present in all types of epilepsy. Symptoms may also include loss of consciousness or unusual emotions, sensations, and behaviors. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of epilepsy.

Epilepsy can lead to potentially serious complications, especially if it is left untreated or not managed consistently. These include injuries to the head and body from falling and convulsive seizure activity or from car accidents caused by a seizure. They also include drowning during a seizure. Epilepsy can also endanger a pregnancy and the mother as well. In addition, taking certain anti-epileptic medications may cause birth defects.

It is also not unusual for people with epilepsy to develop behavioral, emotional, or social problems due to the stigma associated with the conditions and the potentially embarrassing seizures.

Life threatening complications of epilepsy include status epilepticus, which increases the risk of permanent brain damage and death, and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. Regular medical care and good control of seizures decrease the risk of developing these complications.

Making a diagnosis of epilepsy begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical and neurological examination. It also includes electroencephalogram, which examines the brain's electrical activity. Imaging test may include CT scan, MRI, and a lumbar puncture, which can help to identify or rule-out certain causes of epilepsy.

A diagnosis of some types of epilepsy can easily be missed or delayed because some symptoms are so subtle and can be easily overlooked. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of epilepsy.

There is no cure for epilepsy, although some children may grow out of some forms of the disorders. Most people with epilepsy can be effectively treated and enjoy living normal, productive lives. Treatment generally involves anti-epileptic medications, treating underlying conditions, and other therapies. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of epilepsy. ...more »

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal ... more about Epilepsy.

Epilepsy: Brain condition causing seizures or spasms. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Epilepsy is available below.

Epilepsy: Symptoms

The symptoms, severity, and frequency of epilepsy vary greatly depending on the type of seizure, the cause of the condition, the age and activity level of a person, and other factors.

Many people with epilepsy may experience an aura. An aura is some type of warning that a seizure is approaching. Auras are different in different people, but may include a ...more symptoms »

Epilepsy: Treatments

Epilepsy is not curable, but it can be effectively treated in most people, allowing them to live productive, active lives. The goal of treatment is to prevent or control seizures as much as possible. This helps to reduce the chance of developing serious complications, such as status epilepticus and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. This also minimizes ...more treatments »

Epilepsy: Misdiagnosis

Symptoms of some types of epilepsy, such as jerking convulsions of the body, are dramatic and straightforward and usually lead to prompt medical care and a diagnosis. However, symptoms of some forms of epilepsy, such as petit mal seizures, can be subtle and easily overlooked. These types of symptoms can easily be mistaken for "daydreaming" behavior. Behaviors of ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Treatments for Epilepsy

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Epilepsy:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Epilepsy?

Epilepsy: Related Patient Stories

Epilepsy: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Epilepsy.

Types of Epilepsy

Curable Types of Epilepsy

Possibly curable types of Epilepsy include:

  • Post-traumatic epilepsy
  • Hypoglycaemia related epilepsy
  • Stroke related epilepsy
  • Brain tumours related epilepsy
  • Drug withdrawal related epilepsy
  • Alcohol withdrwal related epilepsy
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Epilepsy:

Rare types of Epilepsy include:

Diagnostic Tests for Epilepsy

Test for Epilepsy in your own home

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Epilepsy: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Epilepsy:

Causes of Epilepsy

More information about causes of Epilepsy:

Disease Topics Related To Epilepsy

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Epilepsy:

Epilepsy: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Epilepsy

Epilepsy misdiagnosed as schizophrenia: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on a case of a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, but later diagnosed with a form of more »

Various mental health symptoms caused by rare epilepsy: Temporal lobe epilepsy is a less common form of epilepsy that does not have the typical physical seizures. Patients can suffer from symptoms such as more »

Rare seizure-less epilepsy misdiagnosed as various conditions: A complex partial seizure disorder, such as temporal lobe epilepsy can be misdiagnosed as various conditions. Some of the more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition can be fatal. more »

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden inability to speak. more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. This is particularly true of more »

Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed. It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return. A variety of symptoms can occur in post-concussion syndrome more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms more »

Epilepsy: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Epilepsy: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Epilepsy

Epilepsy: Animations

Prognosis for Epilepsy

Prognosis for Epilepsy: Good. Most people have only mild impacts on an otherwise normal life.

Research about Epilepsy

Visit our research pages for current research about Epilepsy treatments.

Clinical Trials for Epilepsy

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Epilepsy include:

Statistics for Epilepsy

Epilepsy: Broader Related Topics

Epilepsy Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Epilepsy, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Epilepsy Information Page: NINDS)

Definitions of Epilepsy:

Brain disorder characterized by recurring excessive neuronal discharge, exhibited by transient episodes of motor, sensory, or psychic dysfunction, with or without unconsciousness or convulsive movements. - (Source - Diseases Database)

A disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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