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What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes abnormal brain activity that leads to seizures, loss of awareness, and other unusual behavior. The disease can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or background.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

There are two different categories of seizures that produce various symptoms.

Focal seizures

Focal seizures occur in one specific area of the brain. Some, called partial seizures, don’t lead to a loss of consciousness. Instead, people may experience changes in their:

  • Emotional state
  • Ability to smell and taste
  • Hearing

Symptoms of focal seizures include jerking in one body part, like an arm or leg, and sudden sensations like tingling, flashing lights, and dizziness.

Generalized seizures

Generalized seizures affect every part of the brain and manifest in different ways. For example, absence seizures usually affect children. They cause people to stare off into space and exhibit body movements like lip-smacking and eye blinking. While they typically only last between 5-10 seconds, absence seizures can occur up to 100 times per day.

Other seizures produce more severe symptoms. The most severe, called tonic-clonic seizures, cause individuals to lose consciousness. In addition, they may experience body stiffening, shaking, twitching, tongue biting, and loss of bladder control.

What causes epilepsy?

Genetics, head trauma, and brain abnormalities can lead to epilepsy. However, around half of people diagnosed with the medical disorder have no attributable cause. Your brain sends messages via electrical impulses that move from one cell to another. People with epilepsy experience disruptions of electrical energy that affect awareness, movements, and emotions.

Can any complications arise if left untreated?

Without treatment, individuals may be more likely to have a seizure while driving or during other risky situations. That can lead to injuries like broken bones or even loss of life.

What medications treat epilepsy?

Doctors typically recommend medication for the treatment of epilepsy. Patients usually receive an anti-seizure prescription to take as directed. In some instances, they may take it along with a combination with other medications.

With over 20 medications available for the treatment of epilepsy, the costs can add up quickly for patients.

Common medications may include

Anticonvulsant - AMPA-Type Glutamate Receptor Antagonists
Anticonvulsant - Barbiturates and Derivatives
Mysoline phenobarbital primidone
Anticonvulsant - Benzodiazepines
clobazam clonazepam Diastat diazepam Klonopin Nayzilam


Epilepsy - Mayo Clinic

Medical Management of Epilepsy - Johns Hopkins

Tonic-clonic Seizures - Epilepsy Foundation

Focal Onset Aware Seizures (Simple Partial Seizures) - Epilepsy Foundation