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Epilepsy’s Connection to the Brain

The brain contains billions of nerve cells called neurons that communicate with each other by sending and receiving electrical impulses.  A seizure occurs when there is abnormal and excessive electrical activity that temporarily interrupts normal brain function. A seizure is a disruption of the electrical communication between neurons. Epilepsy is more common these other neurological disorders combined — Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Epilepsy Known Causes

When the cause of epilepsy is known, the four most common causes are: brain trauma, brain stroke, brain tumor and brain infection. Other causes include: metabolic, genetic, congenital malformations, immune and unknown causes. Advances in brain imaging and whole genomic sequencing will help more people to know and better understand the cause of their epilepsy.  Learn more about the causes of epilepsy and triggers of seizures.

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Types of Seizures and Epilepsy Syndromes

There are many types of seizures. Seizures can be a staring spell, a muscle twitch or spasm, difficulty speaking, confusion, automatic mouth or hand movements, wandering and unsteadiness. Some seizures cause a person to collapse, shake, and become unaware of what is going on around them. Some seizures have few outward signs, and may be as subtle as a funny sensation or unusual smell a person experiences.  Epilepsy is a spectrum of disorders and there are many different types of epilepsy syndromes. The impact of epilepsy on each person is unique.

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Epilepsy Treatments

Sixty to seventy percent of people with epilepsy can find seizure control with medication(s), dietary therapies, surgical treatments, lifestyle changes and/or implanted devices or a combination of these therapies. But thirty to forty percent of people with epilepsy live with uncontrolled seizures despite multiple trials of therapy.

Various treatments include anti-seizure medications, therapeutic diets and surgeries.
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There are various things that complicate epilepsy treatment: poor adherence to medications or other therapies, sleep deprivation, active medical illness and fever, major emotional stress, hormonal changes, catamenial epilepsy, medication adjustments and substance abuse.

Brain Health Tips

No matter what age you are, everyone can take care of their brain. Here are five recommendations:

1. Get enough sleep
2. Drink lots of water
3. Use/exercise your brain
4. Eat healthy food
5. Use a helmet to protect your brain when biking, etc.
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