What is epilepsy? Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures. An abnormal area in your brain sometimes sends bursts of electrical activity that cause your seizures. A birth defect, tumor, stroke, dementia, injury, or infection may cause epilepsy. The cause of your epilepsy may not be known. If your seizures are not controlled, epilepsy may become life-threatening.

What are the signs and symptoms of an epileptic seizure? An epileptic seizure usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes. Your signs and symptoms will depend on which area of your brain is affected. You may experience any of the following:

How is epilepsy diagnosed? Your caregiver will ask about your health conditions and what medicines you take. Tell him when your seizures occurred and how often. Your caregiver will need a detailed description of your seizure. If possible, bring someone who has seen your seizure with you to your visit. You may need any of the following:

How is epilepsy treated? The goal of treatment is to try to stop your seizures completely. You may need any of the following:

What are the risks of epilepsy? After a seizure you may feel confused or have a headache. The recovery phase can last minutes or up to 2 weeks. Epilepsy may increase your risk for depression and anxiety. Fear of seizures may affect your independence, such as driving, employment, and social relationships. Seizures can cause serious injury or sudden death.

What do I need to know about epilepsy?

How can others keep me safe if I have an epileptic seizure? Give the following instructions to family, friends, and coworkers:

First Aid: Convulsions
First Aid: Convulsions

When should I contact my caregiver?

When should I seek care immediately or call 911?


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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