Information about epilepsy

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that disrupts the normal electrical activity our brains use to communicate with the rest of the body. This disruption causes repeated seizures.

Epilepsy can affect anyone, at any age, from any walk of life.

A one-off seizure does not necessarily mean that you have or will develop epilepsy.

An epileptic seizure results from a sudden electrical discharge in the brain that causes changes in sensation, behaviour or consciousness.

Seizures can take many forms because the brain is responsible for such a wide range of functions.

Seizure symptoms depend on where in the brain this abnormal burst of electrical activity happens. As a result, there are many different types of seizures - most usually last from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually stop without any treatment.


Epilepsy facts and stats

  • Approximately 625,800 people in the UK have epilepsy – around 1 in 107 people.
  • There are around 103,600 children and young people with epilepsy in the UK (aged 0-24). This is the equivalent of 1 in 200 children and young people.
  • Epilepsy is more common in children and young people as they get older:
    • 1 in 1000 children aged 0-4
    • 1 in 333 children aged 5-9
    • 1 in 200 young people aged 10-14
    • 1 in 133 young people aged 15-19
    • 1 in 111 young people aged 20-24
  • Epilepsy affects approximately 1 in 200 school-age children (aged 5-19).
  • Around three-quarters of children will either outgrow their epilepsy or it will be well controlled by anti-seizure medications.
  • It is estimated that around 40% of children with epilepsy have a learning disability.
  • Around 3% of people with epilepsy are photosensitive, which means their seizures are brought on by flashing lights.
  • Each year in the UK, around 1,000 people die from causes related to epilepsy.

 

Last updated: October 2023

In this section

Causes of epilepsy

The causes of epilepsy generally falls into three groups; genetic, structural/metabolic or unknown

Epilepsy syndromes

A syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms which, if they occur together, can suggest a particular condition

Epilepsy seizures

An epileptic seizure happens because of a disruption of the electrical activity in the brain

Diagnosing epilepsy

Getting a diagnosis of epilepsy can often take some time. Only until there have been two or more seizures that a diagnosis of epilepsy will be considered

Epilepsy treatment

The main aim of treating epilepsy is to improve the person's quality of life by preventing seizures but also causing minimum side effects