Epilepsy affects over two million Americans with 150,000 new cases detected each year. Perceived as a condition that affects young people, epilepsy can affect anyone at any age.
Take part in promoting awareness this November, which is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. The nation’s fourth most common neurological disorder after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s*, one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.1
While epilepsy is not uncommon, the public’s understanding of the disorder is limited.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by brief disturbances in the brain’s normal electrical functions, a kind of occasional glitch in the amazing electrical system, which controls everything we feel and do. These brief malfunctions (called seizures) may temporarily block awareness. They can also cause uncontrollable shaking, convulsions, confusion, or affect the senses.
Anyone, at any age, can have a seizure if the brain is stressed sufficiently by injury or disease. A single seizure isn't epilepsy, although the symptoms are the same. Epilepsy is the name given to seizures that occur more than once because of an underlying condition in the brain.
It’s important to be aware of seizures as people age, because they may have odd or strange experiences such as confusion, lost time, or suspended awareness. They, or their loved ones, may assume it’s just a part of the aging process––but it could be epilepsy, which can often be successfully treated.
Sources: Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine