Epilepsy is a chronic neurological (brain) condition that is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. In a typical brain, small electrical charges or signals are sent from the nerves in the brain to other areas of the body. A seizure occurs when the normal electrical activity in the brain is interrupted by intense bursts of energy. For someone to be diagnosed with epilepsy, he or she must experience at least two seizures unrelated to any kind of infection or trauma. Epilepsy is caused by improper pathways of these electrical signals in the brain, a chemical imbalance of nerve signaling, or both. These differences or abnormalities may have resulted from previous head injuries, lead poisoning, genetics, or previous infections. However, many times the cause is unknown.
Although the symptoms of a seizure can affect any part of the body, the electrical event that caused the seizure is always in the brain. When an individual experiences a seizure, they may experience strange sensations, emotions, behaviors, convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. The frequency of seizures is variable among persons with the condition. Epilepsy not only affects one's health, but also impacts their relationships, driving abilities, safety, and work. The goal of treatment is to stop or manage seizures and to improve quality of life. This can often be done through proper medications. The majority of individuals with proper treatment can become seizure free within a few years, others may experience occasional seizures and still others may continue with uncontrolled seizures. It is best to talk to your doctor to find the right treatment plan for you. Support groups are also a good source of information and way to connect with other individuals and families affected by epilepsy.