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A person’s thoughts and movements are controlled by brain cells that communicate with each other through regular electrical impulses. A seizure occurs when sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain disrupt this pattern.
The kind of seizure and the parts of the body affected relate to the part of the brain in which the abnormal electrical activity occurred.
There are many different types of seizures; they can be subtle, causing momentary lapses of consciousness, or conspicuous, causing sudden loss of body control.
Seizures are episodic and unpredictable and may occur as frequently as several times a day, or just occasionally in a lifetime.
Epilepsy affects at least six per cent of the population at some time in their lives.
We know that some types of epilepsy are caused by:
In some people the cause of seizures is unclear.
Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. There are a number of conditions that can be associated with events that mimic epilepsy and these need to be carefully excluded as part of the diagnostic process.
Generally, epilepsy is successfully treated with anti-seizure medications and avoiding known triggers. The majority of people diagnosed with epilepsy will be able to control their seizures, or reduce seizure frequency, with medication and lifestyle modifications.
Some people with epilepsy may notice a link between certain situations and seizures. Some common seizure triggers related to lifestyle include:
Where medication is not effective, other treatment options such as surgery, vagus nerve stimulation, or the ketogenic diet may also be considered.
For people who have difficulty controlling seizures, epilepsy might have a significant impact on their life. Support with work, education, or daily life may be required.
Epilepsy Australia provides information and support for people with epilepsy.