Voluntary Action Calderdale and Public Health work together to highlight health issues. This week they have been working to share information about Epilepsy.
Epilepsy is estimated to affect more than 500,000 people in the UK. This means that almost one in every 100 people has the condition.
There are over 40 types of epilepsy, so just knowing that a person ‘has epilepsy’ does not tell you very much about their epilepsy and the type of seizures they have.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain. When someone has epilepsy, it means they have a tendency to have epileptic seizures.
Anyone can have a one-off seizure, but this doesn’t always mean they have epilepsy. Epilepsy is usually only diagnosed if someone has had more than one seizure, and doctors think it is likely they could have more.
Epilepsy can start at any age and there are many different types. Some types of epilepsy last for a limited time and the person eventually stops having seizures. But for many people epilepsy is a life-long condition.
What causes it?
Electrical activity is happening in our brain all the time, as the cells in the brain send messages to each other. A seizure happens when there is a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. This causes a temporary disruption to the way the brain normally works. The result is an epileptic seizure.
It’s often not possible to identify a specific reason why someone develops the condition, although some cases – particularly those that occur later in life – are associated with damage to the brain.
For example, epilepsy can be caused by strokes, brain tumours and severe head injuries.
Some cases of epilepsy may be caused by changes in the brain that occur as a result of the genes you inherit from your parents.
How is epilepsy treated?
The main treatment for epilepsy is epilepsy medicines. These are sometimes called anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs. The medicine doesn’t cure epilepsy, but helps to stop or reduce the number of seizures.
If epilepsy medicine doesn’t work well for someone, their doctor might suggest other types of treatment. Other types of treatment include brain surgery, another type of surgery called vagus nerve stimulation, and a special diet called the ketogenic diet which is sometimes used for children.
NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Epilepsy/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Epilepsy Action www.epilepsy.org.uk )
Sources of Support
Visit your GP
Epilepsy Action – Epilepsy Action exists to improve the lives of everyone affected by the condition.
Epilepsy Society – Epilepsy Society is the UK’s leading provider of epilepsy services.
HELPLINE – 01494 601 400
Further information about Epilepsy can be found on the NHS choices website. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Epilepsy/Pages/Introduction.aspx
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