What Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is, frequently, a misunderstood health condition. Even before we get into the details of what it is, maybe it’ll be convenient to explain more about the Epilepsy Foundation:

Epilepsy Foundation

The National Epilepsy Foundation is a non-profit that was established in 1968. It has served as a network for families affected by epilepsy and has spearheaded research to uncover innovative treatments for epilepsy.

“The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and SUDEP, find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies.”

As their mission statement says, one of their goals is to educate people about epilepsy. Let’s follow their lead and learn a little more about what epilepsy is.

Epilepsy is a condition where a person has reoccurring seizures. Some people develop it from a brain injury or it is common in their family. There may be identifiable triggers that cause a seizure, but it is more common for the cause to be unknown.

The question now is what is a seizure and how does it happen?

In television, you often see a seizure portrayed as a loss of control over one’s body movements. This is not the case for every person.

Dr. Joseph Sirven, the editor and chief of Epilepsy.com, says a seizure is caused when neurons in the brain collectively discharge. The behavior displayed depends on the area of the brain that the discharge occurs in.

Dr. Sirven says that a seizure could display itself as:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Erratic body movements
  • Sense of time lost
  • Staring blankly
  • Forgetting something

If you have a seizure it does not instantly mean that you have epilepsy. To be diagnosed as epileptic you need to have had at least two seizures that were not caused by a treatable health condition.

Epilepsy can be managed with medicine or avoiding known triggers, but when the cause is unknown it is harder to find the right treatment plan. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, over two million people in America have epilepsy and at least one million have uncontrollable epilepsy.

Presently there is no cure for epilepsy, it can be treated, but for those with uncontrollable epilepsy they need newer treatment methods. This is critical as epilepsy can cause death from prolonged seizures or SUDIP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).

The National Epilepsy Foundation sponsors grants and fellowship opportunities towards epilepsy research. In the spring of 2013, the Epilepsy Foundation provided a total of $348,000 toward research grants.

You can help support their efforts by donating to their website. You could also participate in events such as the National Walk for Epilepsy or National Epilepsy Awareness Month, which is in November.

Epilepsy is not rare and you probably know someone who has it. To support them you should learn more about epilepsy and give to the National Epilepsy Foundation.