ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Basic Facts and Figures about Epilepsy and Seizures

Updated on August 22, 2021

Epilepsy: What is it?

Epilepsy is classified as a chronic neurological disorder characterized by repetitive seizures. Recurring seizures are caused by disruptions in the brain's nerve cell activity. These disruptions can result in seizures, odd behavior, strange sensations, and in some cases blackouts or loss of consciousness. Epilepsy covers a large spectrum of brain disorders that range from benign and minor to severe and life-threatening or disabling.

Epilepsy: Statistics

It's estimated that approximately 1 in 26 people have or will develop some type of seizure disorder. Almost 10 percent of people are at risk for experiencing a single, unfounded seizure in their lifetime. A single seizure doesn't constitute epilepsy. Some seizures occur only once in a lifetime and can be caused by a variety of health conditions, including high fever, stress, or unknown causes. More than one unprovoked seizure may be classified as epilepsy by a physician, or neurologist.

The Human Brain

The human brain - sections
The human brain - sections | Source

Epilepsy: Symptoms

Since epilepsy deals with the central nervous system, a variety of symptoms may present during seizure activity. Here are some of the signs of epilepsy.

  • Blank stare
  • Repetitive blinking
  • Confusion
  • Jerky movements, especially in the limbs
  • Strange sensations in various parts of the body
  • Auras (sensations mostly in the head)
  • Blackout - loss of consciousness
  • Guttural sounds or crying out
  • Rhythmic movements of the limbs
  • Noisy breathing or breathing sounds

Brain & the Central Nervous System

The brain and central nervous system
The brain and central nervous system | Source

Epilepsy: Descriptions

  • Absence Seizures – Lack of awareness or moments of staring that are brief and often go unnoticed for months to years
  • Atonic Seizures – Also referred to as drop seizures or attacks where the person suddenly experiences lack of muscle strength
  • Clonic Seizures – Clonic seizures involve involuntary muscle contraction and relaxation – repetitive jerking
  • Myoclonic Seizures – Similar to clonic seizures, but lasting only a second or two
  • Tonic Seizures – Stiffening of the muscles lasting no more than about 20 seconds that more often occur during sleep, but can occur in a conscious state
  • Tonic-Clonic Seizures – An older term used for tonic-clonic seizures is grand mal seizures – a combination of tonic and clonic seizures – seizures may last up to three minutes
  • Simple Partial Seizure – Changes in motor or sensory movements – jerking, inability to speak, numbness, sensations, floating, spinning, hallucinations, distortions, and other odd neurological issues – autonomic seizures control bodily functions and may cause changes in heart rate, breathing problems, sweating, or sensations in the chest, head, or stomach – psychic seizures cause a change in how a person feels, thinks, or experience things
  • Complex Partial Seizures – Usually involve the frontal or temporal lobe only and result in lack of awareness where the person appears to be daydreaming – blank stares, picking or other purposeless actions, screaming, crying, abnormal behavior, or dangerous behavior may occur during a complex partial seizure
  • Secondary Generalized Seizures – Seizures that are generalized to almost all or all of the brain, both sides of the brain after a partial seizure has started
  • Febrile Seizures – High fevers cause febrile seizures in children from 3 months to 5-6 years old – these do not usually mean the child has epilepsy
  • Refractory Seizures – Not controlled with medications – drug-resistant seizures

There are newer, more modern terms used for seizures and epilepsy that will be discussed in other hubs.

Epilepsy: Diagnosis

• Diagnosing epilepsy or seizure disorders involves a number of various tests that will vary depending on the symptoms.

• Neurological exams are the first tests performed to check for motor abilities, behavior, mental functions, and other factors that help determine the type seizures or epilepsy a person has.

• Blood tests are often taken to check for infection, genetics, and any other condition that could be associated with seizures.

• The EEG (Electroencephalogram) is one of the most common tests for diagnosing epilepsy. Electrodes are attached to the scalp as your electrical brain activity is recorded. It’s similar to an EKG where they monitor the heart.

• CT scans (computerized tomography) are X-rays that allow doctors to look at sections of the brain and look for tumors, cysts, bleeding, or other abnormalities.

• MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) testing uses radio waves and magnets to allow doctors to get a very detailed view of the brain. It’s used to check for lesions and abnormalities not detected by CT scans.

• PET (positron emission tomography) scans involve using small amounts of a low-dose radioactive material that is injected into the bloodstream to detect abnormalities and active or inactive areas of the brain.

• SPECT (single-photon emission computerized tomography) testing is used if nothing is found on EEG or MRI tests. It creates a 3D map of the blood flow in the brain during seizures. A low-dose radioactive material is used in this test, just like PET scans, to track blood flow.

Epilepsy: Treatment

The options for treating epilepsy have evolved over the years, but include medications, surgery, natural therapy, self-care, meditation, yoga, keto-genic diet, and/or vagus nerve stimulation. The future may hold a pacemaker for epilepsy similar to how they help control the heart with a pacemaker.

Brain PET Scan

PET scan
PET scan | Source

Epilepsy: Prognosis

There is no known cure for epilepsy. Seizures can be controlled with diet, medication, special devices, surgery, or natural self-care. Most seizures don’t commonly cause brain damage, unless they are left uncontrolled. Emotional and behavioral problems may occur, especially in children where embarrassment, bullying, and other frustrations are involved.

Prolonged seizures can cause sudden or unexplained death in epilepsy. It can be a life-threatening condition, especially when the person is subjected to prolonged seizures.

More research is being done in regard to epilepsy and its underlying causes. Ongoing research for treatment methods and options is also a high priority in the medical research venue.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)