Over 600,000 people in the UK have epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a common and serious neurological condition which affects the brain and nervous system. Seizures always start in the brain and are caused by many different underlying causes, including a person's genetics, a structural change in the brain or from other underlying conditions.
There are over 40 different types of seizure, and not all of them are physical which is why epilepsy can also be an invisible condition.
On this page you'll find information around all aspects of epilepsy including causes, triggers, diagnosing epilepsy and treatment.
Shown on the right is Mel Allen with her family. Mel was diagnosed with epilepsy and found treatment and support from Epilepsy Society.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is not just one condition, but a group of many different 'epilepsies' with one thing in common: a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain.
There are many different types of epileptic seizure. Any of us could potentially have a single epileptic seizure at some point in our lives. This is not the same as having epilepsy, which is a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain.
Having seizures, or being told “you have epilepsy”, can affect people in different ways. This includes driving, sleep, work and travel.
How do you diagnose epilepsy?
Diagnosing epilepsy is not simple. Doctors gather lots of different information to assess the causes of seizures. If you have had two or more seizures that started in the brain you may be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Blood tests, an Electroencephalogram (EEG) and scans are used to gather information for a diagnosis. Tests on their own cannot confirm or rule out epilepsy.
People can react differently to a diagnosis. You might feel lots of different emotions. It may not be possible to think and feel positively, or you may feel fine one minute, and upset or angry the next. It may be helpful to know that this is a common way to feel.
How do you treat epilepsy?
If you have just been diagnosed with epilepsy, you may have questions about medication and treatment.
Anti-seizure medication (ASM), previously known as anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs, is the main type of treatment for most people with epilepsy, that aims to stop seizures from happening.
Brain surgery or neurosurgery is one way of treating epilepsy. Certain criteria have to be met and tests have to be done to assess suitability.
Looking after your wellbeing
How exercise can help your overall health and wellbeing, and how this may also help your epilepsy.
For some people, their epilepsy and mood problems are not connected, they just happen to have both conditions. However, potential links are to do with how epilepsy affects your life as well as with your brain, your genes and your family history.
A balanced diet from different food groups helps the body and brain to function, helping us to stay healthy. This may help reduce the risk of seizures for some people with epilepsy.
Do you know what to do if someone has a seizure?
Our step-by-step guide to the recovery position shows you how to help someone recover after a tonic clonic seizure. These steps should be followed once the shaking has stopped.
How you can best help someone during a seizure depends on what type of seizure they have and how it affects them. On this page you'll find information on what the different types of seizures are and how to treat them.
Our #seizuresavvy campaign focuses on tonic clonic seizures as these are the type of seizure that are most easily recognised. The charity’s new campaign gives people three simple but key instructions to remember in an emergency: “Calm, Cushion, Call.”