Young girl with epilepsy coloring at her desk.

November: National Epilepsy Awareness Month

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. There are some common misconceptions about epilepsy, which makes this month a perfect time to learn exactly what this disease is.

Facts About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disease where nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, which can cause seizures. The definition of epilepsy has undergone some changes in the past few decades; the most recent definition was finalized in 2014 and adopted by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). One very common misconception among the public is that seizures and epilepsy are the same thing, which is untrue.

Much like autism, epilepsy occurs on a spectrum. Within epilepsy, there is a wide range of seizure types and control that vary from person to person. They can range from mild to moderate to severe. A person is usually diagnosed with epilepsy if they have one or more seizures that were not caused by a reversible medical condition like drastically low blood sugar or alcohol withdrawal. The cause of seizures in epilepsy can be hereditary or related to a brain injury, but often cause is unknown.

A person is usually diagnosed with epilepsy if they have one or more seizures that were not caused by a reversible medical condition like drastically low blood sugar or alcohol withdrawal.

In the United States, around three million people have epilepsy, and about 1 in 26 people will develop it at some point in their lives. It is the fourth most common neurological condition and can develop in any person at any age. Children, especially during their first year of life, and adults over 55 are most likely to have epilepsy. It is also estimated that about 1/3rd of individuals with autism also have epilepsy.

In the United States, around three million people have epilepsy, and about 1 in 26 people will develop it at some point in their lives.

Other health issues, such as reproductive problems and osteoporosis, are common among people with epilepsy.

How to Help Those with Epilepsy

There are treatments available to help stop or control the seizures people with epilepsy experience. The first step is to see a doctor and decide on a method of treatment. The most common treatment is the use of a seizure medication, but there are other methods as well. For instance, dietary therapy may be a viable option (although, it is usually in conjunction with a seizure medication).

Having seizures can affect a person’s safety, driving ability, relationships, professional life, and more, but it does not mean the person cannot manage their condition.

Unfortunately, the public’s perception of epilepsy can be incredibly damaging and cause additional challenges for people with the disease. Having seizures can affect a person’s safety, driving ability, relationships, professional life, and more, but it does not mean the person cannot manage their condition. People with epilepsy are capable of having a job and handling responsibilities, among other things.

The Purpose of Awareness

It’s best to be supportive and understanding. Chances are you know someone who already has or will develop epilepsy. Becoming more informed about the disease and ways to help people with it is an easy way to show your support.