Did you know?
- Epilepsy is a physical condition characterized by sudden, brief changes in how the brain works. It is a symptom of a neurological disorder - a disorder that affects the brain and shows itself in the form of seizures.
- Epilepsy is a disorder, not a disease; it is not contagious.
- Approximately 0.6% of the Canadian population has epilepsy. This includes those who take anticonvulsant drugs or who had a seizure within the past 5 years.
- Due to the stigma surrounding epilepsy and the prejudice with which society has historically treated people with epilepsy, many with the disorder are reluctant to admit it or to seek treatment. Thus the prevalence of epilepsy is likely much higher.
- Each day in Canada, an average of 42 people learn that they have epilepsy. Each year an average of 15,500 people learn they have epilepsy; 44% are diagnosed before the age of 5, 55% before the age of 10, 75-85% before age 18 and 1% of children will have recurrent seizures before age 14. 1.3% are over the age of 60. This means that about 60% of new patients are young children and senior citizens.
- In approximately 50% of cases of childhood epilepsy, seizures disappear completely.
- In 50 - 60% of cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. In the remainder, the following causes are most common: brain tumour and stroke, head trauma of any type. The more severe the injury, the greater the chance of developing epilepsy. Injury, infection, or systemic illness of the mother during pregnancy, brain injury to the infant during delivery may lead to epilepsy and aftermath of infection (meningitis, viral encephalitis)* poisoning, from substance abuse of alcoholism
- Events that may trigger seizures include: stress, poor nutrition, flickering lights, skipping meals, illness, fever and allergies, lack of sleep, emotions such as anger, worry, fear and others, heat and/or humidity.
- The major form of treatment is long-term drug therapy. Drugs are not a cure and can have numerous, sometimes severe, side effects.
- Brain surgery is recommended only when medication fails and when the seizures are confined to one area of the brain where brain tissue can be safely removed without damaging personality or function.