What Is Epilepsy?

a dizzy woman with a headache, bathed in colored light

What is Epilepsy?

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.

What are Seizures?

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.

Can you have a seizure without epilepsy?

One in 100 people in the United States experience a seizure at some point in their lives, without the diagnosis of epilepsy.

How Common is Epilepsy?

It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States.


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.


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.


It is estimated that 300,000 children under the age of 15 have epilepsy.

Epilepsy in Children

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.

Epilepsy in Seniors

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.

Click to See Our Sources

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

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

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


Pamela Bump

Pamela is the Audience Growth Manager for the HubSpot Blog and holds an M.S. in Media Ventures from Boston University. Before HubSpot, she was Taste for Life’s first Web Editor & Social Media Expert and Harvard Business Review’s first Growth Editor.  In her roles, she’s managed content strategy, social media, and audience growth tactics.

Although her career is focused on digital marketing and editorial innovation, she continues to write for TFL to quench her thirst for food blogging and health journalism.