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EPILEPSY - What it does

Epilepsy is a tendency to recurrent seizures which occur due to an abnormal disorganised burst of electrical activity in the brain. Some people refer to these as "fits" but others find the term offensive.

All types of seizure are not epileptic in origin and a single isolated seizure should not result in a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Epilepsy may be caused by an illness or accident or the cause may be genetic but in many cases the cause is difficult to determine despite many advances in Electro Encephalogram (EEG) techniques and neuro-imaging with CT and MRI Scans. Further details of these are available in the Epilepsy Society leaflet on Diagnosis  For their explanation of MRI click here and for EEG click here

Epilepsy is not a disease, it is not contagious or infectious and it is not a mental illness. Many people with epilepsy are highly intelligent.

A diagnosis of epilepsy will have both a medical and social impact on the patient. For this reason the physician should take much time and many tests before settling on a diagnosis. Whilst this may be frustrating to the patient it is important that the diagnosis is correct.

For up to 70% of patients regular medication could fully control and eliminate seizures and for others a surgical operation can do so. For those whose seizures continue the social implications are significant. Considerable time may be needed to find the best medication without significant side effects.

SUDEP There is a small but significant risk that a person with epilepsy may die suddenly for no obvious reason. It is called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy or SUDEP for short. The likelihood of this occurring should be discussed with you by your doctor or health prctitioner to assess your individual risk and how to reduce this risk. Although itis rare it can happen For further in formation visit the SUDEP Action website. For a full discussion about the definition of SUDEP writtten by our friend and forner East Kent neurologist Dr Lina Nashef click here

Even a single daytime  seizure in the last twelve months will mean the person with epilepsy will not be allowed to drive a motor vehicle. For this reason alone the ability to retain a job or find a new one will be much more difficult. The full driving regulations are available here 

For a video presentation by the Epilepsy Society

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