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Empower yourself with knowledge about epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Discover the causes, treatments, and ways to support those affected.


What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. These seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to temporary disruption in regular brain function.

A seizure is a sudden disruption of uncontrolled electrical
activity in the brain which causes convulsions, changes in an individual’s behavior, and/or unconsciousness. Seizures and epilepsy are not the same. A seizure being a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures.

What is a seizure?


You Are Not Alone!

Every year, 150,000 new cases are diagnosed. Epilepsy is a disorder that affects:









Dive Deeper

What are the types of seizures?

There are many different forms, often not resembling the convulsions that most people associate with epilepsy.


There are over 40 different types of seizures. Common types include:

• Generalized Tonic Clonic (Grand Mal):  Convulsions, stiff muscle rigidity, jerking. 
• Absence (Petit Mal): Blank stare lasting only a few seconds, sometimes accompanied by blinking or chewing motions. 
• Focal Impaired Awareness (Complex Partial):  Random activity where the person is out of touch with their surroundings. 
• Focal Aware (Simple Partial): Jerking in one or more parts of the body or sensory distortions that may or may not be obvious to onlookers. 
• Atonic (Drop Attacks): Sudden collapse with recovery within a minute. 
• Myoclonic: Sudden, brief, massive jerks involving all or part of the body. 

What are the stages of seizures?

  • Prodome Phase (“aura” occurs, dizziness,  numbness, vision changes) 

  • Ictal Phase (loss of awareness, unable to hear,  problems speaking, unable to swallow)

  • Postical Phase - Phase of Recovery (slow to  respond, feeling depressed, scared, anxious,  confused, embarrassed, tired, lose control of  bowel or bladder) 

What causes Epilepsy?

In 70% of epilepsy cases, the cause is unknown.  Potential causes of epilepsy include: 
• Head trauma 
• Stroke 
• Infections that affect the brain 
• Genetic factors 
• Brain Structure Abnormalities 
• Other 

The "EEG" and other types of tests

The electroencephalograph (EEG) is the most commonly used test in diagnosing epilepsy. An EEG provides a continuous recording of electrical activity in the brain during the test. Some patterns of activity are unique to particular forms of seizures. In some situations, physicians may also use CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans to look at the internal structure and function of the brain. These tests may help pinpoint causes of seizures.​

How is Epilepsy diagnosed?

Patient history, neurological examination, blood work, and other clinical tests are all important in diagnosing epilepsy. Eyewitness accounts of seizure activity may also be significant in helping the doctor determine the type of seizures involved. ​

What treatment options exist?

• Medication (anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs)
• Surgery (Lobectomy, cortical resection and other brain surgeries)
• Implant Devices (VNS, RNS, DBS)
• Ketogenic/Atkins Diets
• Get plenty of sleep; a lack of sleep could trigger seizures
• Reduce and manage stress

Critical Information
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Seizure First Aid
  • Don’t panic.

  • Track the begin and end time.

  • Direct the person away from hazards or remove objects that may present a danger.

  • If the person is having a convulsive seizure, turn them on their side and cushion the head.

  • Remove glasses and loosen tight clothing.

  • Do NOT put anything in the mouth. Do NOT restrain.

  • Remain present until the person regains conscious awareness.

  • Follow the individual’s seizure action plan, if available.

When to Call 911

Most seizures are not medical emergencies, but an ambulance should be called if:

  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes or a second seizure starts shortly after the first ended.

  • The person does not resume normal breathing after the seizure ends.

  • There is no medical ID and no known history of seizures.

  • There is obvious injury.

  • The person is pregnant or has diabetes

  • The seizure happens in water.

  • The person requests an ambulance.

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