Epilepsy affects the brain and means that you have repeated seizures. Some people call them fits, faints or funny turns.
It’s fairly common to have a seizure. About one in 20 people will have one at some point in their life. Usually, you are only diagnosed with epilepsy if you’ve had two or more seizures.
Epilepsy affects around 456,000 people in the UK. This means that about 1 in 130 people have epilepsy. Epilepsy usually begins during childhood, although it can start at any age.
If you’re a teenager with epilepsy, you probably have all sorts of questions about how epilepsy could affect your life. For example, will you be able to go on holiday with friends, go to concerts and clubs and drink alcohol? Or maybe you have a friend, brother or sister who has epilepsy and you just want to understand more about it.
The information on these web pages should help you answer your questions and leave you understanding more about epilepsy.
The cells in the brain, known as neurons, communicate with each other with electrical impulses. During a seizure, the electrical impulses are disrupted, which can cause the brain and body to behave strangely.
The severity of the seizures can differ from person to person. Some people simply experience a ‘trance-like’ state for a few seconds or minutes, while others lose consciousness and have convulsions (uncontrollable shaking of the body).
Types of epilepsy
There are three main types of epilepsy:
- Symptomatic epilepsy - the symptoms of epilepsy are due to damage or disruption to the brain.
- Cryptogenic epilepsy - while no evidence of damage to the brain can be found, other symptoms, such as learning difficulties, suggest that damage to the brain has occurred.
- Idiopathic epilepsy - no obvious cause for epilepsy can be found.
See Epilepsy - causes for more information about the different types of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a long-term condition and, for most people, the outlook is very good. Symptoms can usually be controlled using medicines known as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
It can take some time to find the right type and correct dose of AED before your seizures can be controlled.
With a clear understanding of your epilepsy and good management of your seizures, the risks can be minimised.
Want to know more?
- Epilepsy Action: What is epilepsy?
- The National Society for Epilepsy: What is epilepsy?
- Brain & Spine Foundation: Epilepsy.
Young Epilepsy Website
Epilepsy seizure diary
The password-protected diary, www.youngepilepsydiary.org.uk, is free to use and enables teenagers to keep a record of their seizures and how the condition affects them. This information can be printed off as a report and shared with medical professionals treating the user.
It enables the user to record when they have a seizure, what triggered it, how long it lasted and how they felt afterwards.
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