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.
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.
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
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