Epilepsy is often misunderstood. Mostly, because people know so little about it. For example, did you know that it can be more than just shaking violently on the ground, as it’s often depicted in movies? Sometimes, a seizure can just involve brief episodes of staring or daydreaming.

It also affects more people than you would think. In the U.S., Epilepsy affects around three million people of all ages – more than Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and Parkinson’s Disease combined.

Want to learn more about epilepsy, such as causes, triggers, and risk factors? Check out the infographic below.

Medical Monday: Epilepsy

Educate Yourself About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes nerve cell activity (neurons) in the brain to become disrupted, resulting in seizures, unusual behavior, or loss of consciousness.

Did You Know?

Epilepsy affects 65 million people in the world, 2.2-3 million in the U.S. alone. Approximately 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in a lifetime. Someone is said to have epilepsy if they’ve had two or more unprovoked seizures occur that can’t be explained by a medical condition. For about 1 in 3 people with epilepsy, there is no treatment that works. The cause is unknown for 60 percent of people suffering from epilepsy.

Epilepsy Risk Factors

Risk factors of epilepsy include:

  • Injuries in the brain
  • Having a seizure in the first month of life
  • Brain abnormalities
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Family history of seizures

More than 50 percent of people who develop epilepsy don’t have any risk factors. Epilepsy is more common in Hispanic people.

Epilepsy Causes

The primary causes of epilepsy include:

  • Genetics
  • Autism
  • Infections
  • Stroke, for people 65+

Seizure Triggers

Common triggers of seizures include:

  • Missing a dose of seizure medication
  • Poor sleep
  • Illness
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Missing meals
  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Flashing lights or patterns

Epilepsy Diagnosis

To diagnose epilepsy, your doctor will:

  • Ask for a detailed medical history
  • Perform blood tests
  • Order EEG tests, and CT and MRI scans

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