Epilepsy is a disorder involving sudden bursts of excess energy in the brain. The normally smooth function of the brain is disturbed by these excessive bursts of energy (a little bit like a brief electrical storm in the brain) and a seizure occurs.
anyone can develop epilepsy at any age, however, the peak ages of onset are at the extremes of life (in the first decade and after age 65)
many children will outgrow seizures
people with epilepsy have the same range of intelligence as the general population
it is not contagious, and is rarely fatal
There is no single cause of epilepsy. The following are possible causes:
trauma before, during and after birth
infections and poisons affecting the brain
seizure tendency may be inherited in a small percentage of cases
in 50% of cases the cause is unknown
Treatment is usually with antiseizure medication.
In 75% of cases, seizures can be either partially or completely controlled with medication.
The remaining 20-25% of cases will have difficulty achieving seizure control.
Brain surgery is used only when medication fails and when seizures can be located in one area of the brain.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet used to treat some children with seizures that cannot be controlled with medications.
The vagus nerve stimulator is a surgically implanted devise that delivers a mild electrical current to the vagus nerve to help control seizure activity. It is used with antiseizure medication. This procedure is currently offered to people with intractable seizures.