Epilepsy and Seizure Facts

Epilepsy and Seizure Facts

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects nearly three million Americans, with approximately 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year. One in every ten Americans will experience a seizure at some point in their lives. Three percent will eventually develop epilepsy. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States following Migraines, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. It is thought to be more common than Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease combined.

Seizures, which are a symptom of epilepsy, occur when the brain’s nerve cells emit uncontrolled electrical charges in one or several parts of the brain.

They may be characterized by a series of involuntary jerking movements, confusion, staring spells, or alterations in language. The first line of treatment is typically the administration of an antiepileptic drugs (AED). However, when drugs fail to sufficiently control the seizures, surgery or diet may also be an option.

Another type of seizure disorder that can very seriously impact the life of the patient who suffers it and the life of his/her loved ones is called psychogenic non-epileptic seizure disorder. A psychogenic non-epileptic attack is an event that looks similar to an epileptic attack but it happens without the abnormal electrical changes that take place during epileptic attacks. Triggers of Psychogenic non-epileptic seizure (PNES) attacks are emotional and therefore PNES is treated by psychologists and psychiatrists rather than neurologists. This patient group tends to fall “between the cracks” because the neurological versus psychiatric origin of the condition often remains unclear for prolonged periods of time which further complicates the health issues.

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