10 things you should know about Epilepsy 1-2

1. Epilepsy is the condition of having repeated, unprovoked seizures, whereas a seizure is an abnormal electrical discharge of the brain which then results in an individual losing consciousness or having a change in their neurological function. There are several types of seizures and not all are dramatic in their presentation, though they are often depicted in movies and television as a convulsion.  Some seizures manifest by one simply losing focus, but to a bystander, it may seem as daydreaming, wandering or a tremor.  Therefore, not all seizures are very dramatic in their presentations.
2. Epilepsy is very common.  According to the CDC, one in 26 people in the U.S. will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.  If you think about it, that means two persons on every bus or two people in every subway car will have epilepsy.  There are 150,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed in the United States annually; 2.2 million people in the U.S. and more than 65 million people worldwide have the condition.
3. Children and older adults are the fastest-growing segments of the population with new cases of epilepsy; however, the reason that they have epilepsy varies dramatically.  In children, we see an overabundance of genetic and infectious causes of seizures. For older adults, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease seem to be the common cause of epilepsy and seizures in this population.
4. There are numerous causes of seizures and epilepsy.  Stroke, head trauma and tumors are common causes of seizures in the U.S., yet the number one cause of seizures outside of the U.S. is an infection which is completely preventable by simply washing one’s hands. Neurocysticercosis– caused by the Taenia solium tapeworm— is one of the most common causes of epilepsy in the world and an increasing cause of seizures in the U.S.   Other preventable causes of epilepsy are head trauma from car accidents, violence or the consequences of military intervention.
5. Epilepsy is not a benign condition and can result in death. The number of people with epilepsy who die of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) varies from one of every 10,000 newly diagnosed to nine of every 1,000 candidates for epilepsy surgery.

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