Epilepsy, is a seizure disorder that is believed to affect about 65 million people worldwide.[1] In Australia it is estimated to affect about 2% of people at any given time. In 2005 two international organizations on epilepsy, proposed the following definition of epilepsy:[2]

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiologic, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition

These seizures cannot be solely precipitated by certain factors such as[note 1]:

  • Acute brain injury (that is, brain injury in the short-term, that is likely to go away when the underlying disease process or cause of the injury is gone; although if the brain injury is permanent and there is no prospect for the seizures disappearing it can be considered epilepsy), for instance that caused by a current case of meningitis or encephalitis.
  • Medications (like, for instance, bupropion or clozapine) or recreational drugs like alcohol, cocaineamfetamines, etc.

as these factors can provoke seizures in people that are not epileptic. Although certain factors that naturally occur in day-to-day life like flashing lights, if they provoke seizures, can imply an epilepsy diagnosis.


In many cases no single cause can be identified but possible causes include:[3]

  • Irreversible brain injury like from past meningitis infections or from
  • Genetic factors like a family history of seizures and specific genes that convey an increased risk of the disorder


The cornerstone in epilepsy diagnosis is based on a complete history, that is, asking the affected person for tell-tale signs of a seizure, and/or the people close to them.[3] An electroencephalogram (EEG, a test that measures the electrical activity of the brain) may be used to diagnose the condition in some cases.[3] Certain brain scanning techniques may also be used, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).[3] Laboratory tests (like blood tests or lumbar punctures to exclude causes of seizures that could be treatable) can also be used.[3]


Treatment usually involves anticonvulsant medications (the choice of the one used is based on various factors, including the type of seizures experienced by the affected person and which ones they can tolerate the side effects of), dietary changes, avoiding risk factors for seizures and, in cases of resistance to other treatments, certain types of brain surgery.

External linksEdit


  1. Although in epileptics these factors may worsen seizure control or provoke seizures

Reference listEdit

  1. Thurman, DJ; Beghi, E; Begley, CE; Berg, AT; Buchhalter, JR; Ding, D; Hesdorffer, DC; Hauser, WA; Kazis, L; Kobau, R; Kroner, B; Labiner, D; Liow, K; Logroscino, G; Medina, MT; Newton, CR; Parko, K; Paschal, A; Preux, PM; Sander, JW; Selassie, A; Theodore, W; Tomson, T; Wiebe, S; ILAE Commission on Epidemiology (September 2011). "Standards for epidemiologic studies and surveillance of epilepsy.". Epilepsia. 52 Suppl 7: 2–26. PMID 21899536. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03121.x. 
  2. Fisher, RS; van Emde Boas, W; Blume, W; Elger, C; Genton, P; Lee, P; Engel J, Jr (April 2005). "Epileptic seizures and epilepsy: definitions proposed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE).". Epilepsia 46 (4): 470–2. PMID 15816939. doi:10.1111/j.0013-9580.2005.66104.x. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Ko, DY; Cavazos, JE; Diaz-Arrastia, R; Spitz, M; Talavera, F (3 September 2014). Benbadis, SR, ed. "Epilepsy and Seizures". Medscape Reference. United States of America: WebMD. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 

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