According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.2% of people in the United States have active epilepsy. It affects around 3 million adults and 470,000 children in the country.
Epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, is a temporary change in typical brain activity. A person with epilepsy has a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures. Epilepsy is one of the
There are different types of seizures. The most recognizable, a motor seizure, can cause a person to fall and their muscles to twitch or jerk rapidly. The less obvious yet
Seizures can last a few seconds or minutes, depending on the type. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain. Focal seizures affect one brain area. However, they can spread to other areas.
This article explains how common epilepsy is and who it affects. It also lists possible causes and where to find support.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
National data sources from 2015 confirmed active epilepsy in
Doctors define active epilepsy as:
- epilepsy a doctor has diagnosed that a person takes medication to control
- epilepsy that has caused one or more seizures in the past year
- epilepsy that fits both of the criteria above
Across states, active epilepsy prevalence
Epilepsy is one of the
There is a bidirectional relationship between epilepsy and depression. People with epilepsy are more likely to report symptoms of depression, and depression may make epilepsy more likely. Brain areas responsible for seizures also play a role in mood, which may help explain this relationship.
People are also more likely to develop epilepsy when they live or travel to areas where the risk of contracting an epilepsy-causing infection is higher.
Epilepsy may develop in the womb or later in life. Often, doctors cannot find a
Doctors consider problems during pregnancy and childbirth preventable causes of epilepsy. These may include some congenital abnormalities or a lack of oxygen during birth. Estimates indicate that
Other known causes include the following:
It is essential for friends, family, and peers of people with the condition to receive education about epilepsy. This may include colleagues in the workplace or caretakers of children, such as babysitters and school teachers.
Seizure response training programs can teach people how to identify a seizure, what actions to take, how to keep someone safe, and when to call for emergency help. The
More epilepsy tools and resources are available from:
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting 1.2% of the U.S. population. It is more common among males than females. Infants and people over 65 have the highest incidence of new-onset epilepsy diagnoses.
Potential causes of epilepsy include problems during childbirth, exposure to certain bacteria and infections, experiencing a stroke, and traumatic brain injuries.
Living a full, healthy life is achievable for most people with epilepsy. Experts advise people to learn how to stay safe during seizures, follow medical advice about managing the condition, and seek support if necessary.