Around half a million people in the UK are estimated to have epilepsy, around 60,000 of whom are children and teenagers under 18.
A diagnosis of epilepsy means that you have had more than one epileptic seizure and could have more in the future. A seizure happens when there is a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. This causes a temporary disruption of the way the brain normally works, resulting in an epileptic seizure.
The brain is responsible for all the functions of the mind and body. What a child or adult with epilepsy experiences during a seizure will depend on where in the brain the intense electrical activity is happening.
Anyone can develop epilepsy at any time and there are many different types. Causes include brain damage caused by a difficult birth, head injuries, strokes or infection of the brain, very occasionally a brain tumour. Sometimes the cause remains unknown.
Existing drugs to treat the symptoms of epilepsy – i.e. seizures – have side effects which can be unpleasant. Sadly, around one in three are living with epilepsy that is difficult to control with this medication.
Action Medical Research has invested over £3 million into epilepsy research, including projects identifying genes that may cause the condition as well as those looking at possible improvements in surgery.