Epilepsy is a condition that affects the
brain and causes repeated seizures, also known as fits.
Epilepsy affects more than 500,000 people in the UK. This means almost 1
in 100 people has the condition. Epilepsy usually begins during
childhood, although it can start at any age.
Seizures are the most common symptom of epilepsy, although many people
can have a seizure during their lifetime without developing epilepsy.
The cells in the brain, known as neurones, communicate with each other
using electrical impulses. During a seizure, the electrical impulses are
disrupted, which can cause the brain and body to behave strangely.
The severity of the seizures can differ from person to person. Some
people simply experience a ‘trance-like’ state for a few seconds or
minutes, while others lose consciousness and have convulsions
(uncontrollable shaking of the body).
Epilepsy can happen for many different reasons, although usually it is
the result of some kind of brain damage.
Epilepsy can be defined as being one of three types, depending on what
caused the condition. These are:
•Symptomatic epilepsy – when the symptoms of epilepsy are due to damage
or disruption to the brain.
•Cryptogenic epilepsy – when no evidence of damage to the brain can be
found, but other symptoms, such as learning difficulties, suggest that
damage to the brain has occurred.
•Idiopathic epilepsy – when no obvious cause for epilepsy can be found.
Epilepsy is most often diagnosed after you have had more than one
seizure. This is because many people have a one-off epileptic seizure
during their lifetime.
The most important information needed by a GP or neurologist is a
description of your seizures. This is how most cases of epilepsy are
Some scans may also be used to help determine which areas of your brain
are affected by epilepsy, but these alone cannot be used for a
While medication cannot cure epilepsy, it is often used to control
seizures. These medicines are known as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). In
around 70% of cases, seizures are successfully controlled by AEDS.
It can take some time to find the right type and correct dose of AED
before your seizures can be controlled.
In some cases, surgery may be used to remove the area of the brain
affected or to install an electrical device that can help control
• EPILEPSY ACTION – 0808 800 5050 - National
Charity provide information and services for patients and Carers.
Membership forms and Information catalogues available in the Carer's
Centre. Useful fact sheets on the website
They also have a local meeting at Liverpool, last Thursday of each month, 11.00am at The Brain Charity cafe,
Norton Street, Liverpool L3 8LR. Best to contact their local manager, Cliff Challenger (01274 640064, email email@example.com) details on their
website - www.epilepsy.org.uk/near-me/liverpool-liverpool-coffee-and-chat
• TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR EPILEPSY CARERS AND
PATIENTS - www.epilepsymersey.org.uk/travel.htm - Excellent resource for
travellers. Can print information cards and useful phrases to use when
on holiday. Site is presented as a map, click on the area to be visited
and obtain information in a variety of languages