Health & Nutrition - Common Conditions: Epilepsy


Epilepsy affects the brain and causes frequent seizures, or bursts of electrical activity.

Epilepsy affects the brain and causes frequent seizures, or bursts of electrical activity.

Epilepsy usually starts either in childhood or in people over 60. It is often life-long, but can get better over time. Most children with epilepsy are able to go to a mainstream school.

CAUSES

It is unclear what causes epilepsy, although one in three people with epilepsy have a family member with it, so it may be partly affected by genes. Occasionally, epilepsy can be caused by damage to the brain, such as a stroke, brain tumour, severe head injury, drug abuse or alcohol misuse, brain infection or lack of oxygen during birth.

SYMPTOMS

Seizures can affect people in different ways, but possible symptoms include:

  • uncontrollable jerking and shaking, or ‘fit’
  • losing awareness and staring blankly into space
  • becoming stiff
  • strange sensations, such as a ‘rising’ feeling in the tummy, unusual smells or tastes, and a tingling feeling in arms or legs
  • collapsing.

MEDICAL HELP

See a GP if you think a child might have had a seizure for the first time. Call 999 if a child:

  • is having a seizure for the first time
  • has a seizure that lasts more than five minutes
  • has lots of seizures in a row
  • has breathing problems or has seriously injured themselves

Adapted from the NHS website

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