National Epilepsy Awareness Month



Overview

National Epilepsy Awareness Month takes place annually in November to educate people on epilepsy’s causes and symptoms. An estimated 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their life. Epilepsy affects more than 65 million people globally. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where abnormal brain activity causes seizers, unusual behavior, sensations, or loss of awareness. Epilepsy affects all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and ages. Epilepsy can present in a variety of different symptoms, making it increasingly important to be educated on the disorder. To be diagnosed with epilepsy, one must have at least two seizures, without a known cause, at least 24 hours apart. Having one seizure does not mean a person has epilepsy. If diagnosed with epilepsy there is effective treatment and medications. Some people may need lifelong treatment, others may outgrow the disorder with age. This November spread awareness of epilepsy by learning about the disorder.


Symptoms

People with epilepsy can stare blankly for a few seconds or twitch their arms and legs during a seizure. Seizures can present with a variety of signs and symptoms.

  • Temporary confusion

  • A staring spell

  • Stiff muscles

  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs

  • Loss of consciousness or awareness

  • Psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety or déjà vu


Causes

Some cases of epilepsy have been linked to the causes below. For some cases, the cause remains unknown.

  • Specific genes

  • Head trauma

  • Brain abnormalities

  • Brain tumors

  • Arteriovenous malformations

  • Infections

  • Meningitis

  • HIV

  • Prenatal injury

  • Developmental disorders

  • Autism


Risk Factors

In cases of epilepsy, the factors below have been seen to increase ones risk of epilepsy.

  • Age

  • Most common in children

  • Family history

  • Head injuries

  • Stroke

  • Dementia

  • Brain infections


Treatment

Treatment can help people have fewer seizures or stop seizures completely.

  • Medicines such as, anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs)

  • Surgery where a small part of the brain is removed that is causing the seizures

  • Vagus nerve stimulation, where a small electrical device is inserted under the skin to help control seizures

  • Ketogenic diet, a specialized diet high in fats, and low in carbohydrates and protein

See a doctor immediately if you experience any signs or symptoms of epilepsy.


References

1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Epilepsy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093.

2. “Recognizing November as Epilepsy Awareness Month.” Recognizing November as Epilepsy Awareness Month | Valley Children's Healthcare, Valley Children's Healthcare, https://www.valleychildrens.org/neurosciences/epilepsy-awareness-month.

3. “Treatment - Epilepsy.” NHS Choices, NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/treatment/.


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