What Is Epilepsy?

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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system which is known to cause seizures. Although it is not uncommon to experience one seizure in a lifetime, those diagnosed with epilepsy will experience two or more. Seizures, which are caused by a disturbance in the brain’s nerve cell activity, may have a variety of different symptoms including loss of consciousness and uncontrollable twitching. 

Although one in 100 people in the United States experience a seizure at some point in their lives without the diagnosis of epilepsy, it is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States.

Incidence  

It is expected that 150,000 people will develop epilepsy each year in the United States. One in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime; many will develop the disorder during childhood.

Prevalence

It has been estimated that roughly 2.2 million people in the United States have epilepsy. However, out of every 1000 people, it is expected that every 16.5 have had epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.

Age

It is estimated that 300,000 children under the age of 15 have epilepsy. While some will have life-long symptoms of the disorder, other children may have temporary cases of the disorder that lessen with age and treatment.

Similarly, 300,000 senior citizens are estimated to have epilepsy in the United States. Although seizures are not often life threatening, they may pose risks of other complications for older people, including falls or broken bones. Treatment may also be more challenging due to a higher risk of medication complications.

 

Sources: 

“Epilepsy Statistics” by Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN and Joseph I. Sirven, MD, Epilepsy Foundation, 10/13

http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-statistics 

“Epilepsy and the Senior Community” by Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN and Joseph I. Sirven, MD, Epilepsy Foundation, 10/13

http://www.epilepsy.com/node/2000127

“For Youth” by Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN and Joseph I. Sirven, MD, Epilepsy Foundation, 10/13.

http://www.epilepsy.com/node/2002556 

Contributor: 

Pamela Bump

Pamela is a recipient of Boston University’s Master of Science in Media Ventures. In addition to developing online content and managing social media for Taste for Life, she’s served as Health Editor/Copy Editor for the Keene Sentinel newspaper, Social Media/Member Engagement Coordinator for Boston Women in Media & Entertainment, and Editorial Assistant for MedTechBoston.com.