Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition. It is where there is a tendency to have recurrent seizures that begin in the brain. Epilepsy will usually only be diagnosed once a person has had more than one seizure.
More than half a million people in the UK have epilepsy; this equates to around 1 in 100 people. Epilepsy is more common in children and people over 65.
There are many causes for epilepsy; genetic, trauma, infection such as meningitis and stroke for example. However for most the cause is unknown.
An epileptic seizure is a sudden excessive and synchronised discharge of a group of nerve cells in the brain due to a disruption of the electrical and chemical balance in the brain. There are many different types of seizures and much depends on where in the brain it starts, if it spreads and how far it spreads.
For some, seizures can start as a result of triggers. These are unique to the individual and can include: stress or anxiety, lack of sleep or tiredness, low blood sugar level, heavy drinking or street drugs, flickering lights from strobe lighting or video games, infections or menstruation.
Seizures start spontaneously and often without warning and will usually last for a short period of time, either a few seconds or a few minutes. When a seizure lasts for longer than 5 minutes it is considered an emergency and there is risk of status epilepticus.
Status Epilepticus is defined as an episode of more than 30 minutes of continuous seizure activity, two or more sequential seizures spanning this period without full recovery; that is normal breathing and full consciousness between seizures. As most seizures clinically last less than 5 minutes those persisting longer are unlikely to stop spontaneously and recover or emergency treatment should be initiated. Status Epilepticus is an emergency because of its morbidity and mortality. Any seizure type may manifest as status epilepticus.
There are many epilepsy charities that support people living with epilepsy and their carers. Special Products Limited has supported many of these organisations for several years working to produce training leaflets, supporting educational activities with a grant or exhibiting at conferences they’ve organised. Links to these charities can be found below: