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Epilepsy FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Epilepsy

This FAQ about Epilepsy was compiled and written by Andrew Patrick (andrew@calvin.dgbt.doc.ca) with numerous contributions by others.

Please note that this Epilepsy information MAY NOT BE ACCURATE OR COMPLETE. Anyone with serious questions about Epilepsy should consult their doctor. Some of this material was prepared by Epilepsy Ottawa-Carleton and Epilepsy Ontario, and it is used with permission. Please contact me before you use any of this material in other information products.

-01 What does "Epilepsy" mean?
The word Epilepsy is derived from a Greek word meaning a ...
-02 Is Epilepsy a disease?
Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a sign or symptom of an ...
-03 What is a seizure?
The brain is a highly complex and sensitive organ. It controls ...
-04 What is an aura?
Before the onset of a seizure some people experience a sensation ...
-05 When was Epilepsy discovered?
Epilepsy is the oldest known brain disorder. It was mentioned more ...
-06 What kind of people have Epilepsy?
Virtually everyone can have a seizure under the right circumstances....
-07 How many people have Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is far more common than most of us realize. Current ...
-08 Does Epilepsy strike at any particular age?
Epilepsy can strike anyone at any age. However, most persons ...
-09 Does Epilepsy occur more in some cultures?
Epilepsy occurs more frequently in some cultures. In Tanzania, 4% ...
-10 Are there different types of seizures?
Many varieties of epileptic seizures occur, and frequency and form ...
-11 What is the difference between partial and general seizures?
The distinction between partial and generalized seizures is ...
-12 What are partial seizures?
Partial seizures (formerly known as focal seizures) with ...
-13 What are complex partial seizures?
Complex-partial seizures (formerly psychomotor or temporal ...
-14 What are absence (petit mal) seizures?
Generalized absence seizures (formerly petit mal) are characterized ...
-15 What are tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures?
The tonic-clonic (formerly grand mal) seizure is a ...
-16 What are other types of seizures?
Benign rolandic epilepsy is an epileptic syndrome occurring in ...
-17 What are "status" seizures?
Status epilepticus is the term used to describe recurrent ...
-18 What are pseudoseizures?
Psuedoseizures (or psychogenic seizures) are quite common and can ...
-19 How do you distinguish epileptic seizures from pseudoseizures?
Epileptic seizures and pseudoseizures are distinguishable both by ...
-20 Can seizures occur if a person does not have Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition of recurrent unprovoked seizures....
-21 What are the seizures like?
The nature of the seizures varies depending upon the type of ...
-22 What does it feel like to have a seizure?
Epilepsy is a broad classification for a wide variety of seizures, ...
-23 How long do the seizures last?
Depending on the type of seizure, they can last anywhere from a ...
-24 Is there such a thing as a "minor" case of Epilepsy?
There are over 30 types of seizures, and some types are more ...
-25 What causes Epilepsy?
There is no single cause of Epilepsy. Many factors can injure the ...
-26 Is Epilepsy inherited?
In most cases Epilepsy is not inherited. In a few cases the ...
-27 Is Epilepsy contagious?
Epilepsy is in no way contagious. No one can get the disorder ...
-28 Is it caused by a virus?
Epilepsy can be the result of an infection or disease. Some ...
-29 Can certain things trigger seizures?
In some cases, epileptic seizures can be triggered by things ...
-30 Can seizures be triggered by flashing lights?
Photosensitive Epilepsy is the name given to a form of the ...
-31 Can certain foods or drinks cause seizures?
People with Epilepsy should have regular meals at regular intervals ...
-32 Can lack of sleep cause seizures?
Excessive sleep deprivation can lower seizure thresholds and ...
-33 Can low blood sugar trigger seizures?
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can induce epileptic-type seizures. ...
-34 Can Nutrasweet (Aspartame) trigger seizures?
In 1984, there were 3 reports about large amounts of Aspartame ...
-35 Does alcohol affect seizures?
Alcohol can raise and then lower the seizure threshold, and ...
-36 How can I help someone who is having a seizure?
The appropriate behaviour for helping someone who has a seizure ...
-37 What if my child has a seizure during his sleep?
Children are usually awakened by seizures that occur while they sleep....
-38 How is Epilepsy diagnosed?
The diagnosis and evaluation of Epilepsy requires the physician to ...
-39 What types of doctors can diagnose and treat Epilepsy?
Any licensed physician is qualified to treat Epilepsy. There ...
-40 Can a person with Epilepsy have a false negative EEG?
An EEG measures the electrical activity on the surface of the brain. ...
-41 Can a person have a false positive EEG for Epilepsy.
Many people who do not have Epilepsy may have some ...
-42 Is my child having absence seizures or just day dreaming?
A child having an absence seizure may appear to the onlooker as if ...
-43 What conditions are sometimes mis-diagnosed as Epilepsy?
Seizures occurring as a result of alcohol withdrawal, fever, ...
-44 Can seizures go un-noticed?
The symptoms of seizures are not always noticeable for on-lookers ...
-45 Is there a cure for Epilepsy?
There is no known cure for Epilepsy. Medications can often ...
-46 Is it fatal?
Epilepsy itself can cause death if prolonged repeated seizures (...
-47 What kinds of treatments are available?
When a physician diagnoses Epilepsy, a specific treatment can ...
-48 Are there drug treatments for Epilepsy?
Treatment of Epilepsy is primarily through the use of ...
-49 How do drugs work to control seizures?
The drugs used to control seizures are called anticonvulsants. How ...
-50 What drugs are used to treat Epilepsy?
There are many different drugs used to treat Epilepsy. Some of the ...
-51 How effective are the drug treatments?
Most epileptic seizures are controlled by special anti-convulsive ...
-52 Do these drugs have side effects?
Many medications for Epilepsy have side effects. These can range ...
-53 What is a "blood level"?
Blood level refers to the amount of anticonvulsant in the blood. ...
-54 What are the symptoms of too high a drug level?
Too high of a drug level may cause a person to experience side ...
-55 How much do the drugs cost?
The cost of the anticonvulsant drugs will depend on the dosage ...
-56 Is it necessary for all people with Epilepsy to be on medication?
Treatment of Epilepsy is primarily through the use of ...
-57 When is surgery used to treat Epilepsy?
Surgery is used only when medication fails and only in a ...
-58 What is the likelihood that my child will outgrow a seizure disorder?
The likelihood of a child outgrowing a seizure disorder is difficult ...
-59 Do non-traditional approaches help?
Some people with Epilepsy have tried many different approaches ...
-60 Does transcendental meditation have any effect on Epilepsy?
The medical community has not determined if things such ...
-61 Does biofeedback help?
Biofeedback is the process of moderating, limiting or changing ...
-62 Is there a special diet for people with Epilepsy?
Good nutritional habits and a healthy life style may assist in ...
-63 What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is very rich in lipids (fats) and oils, but low ...
-64 Can people living with Epilepsy lead normal lives?
Experience has shown that people with Epilepsy have fewer seizures ...
-65 What can people with Epilepsy do to help their health?
Like any medical condition, Epilepsy is affected by the general ...
-66 Who should know that I have Epilepsy?
Openness and honesty about Epilepsy is important. A child's ...
-67 Is there prejudice against people with Epilepsy?
While much progress has been made in reducing societal ...
-68 Are there any problems having children?
Women who use seizure-controlling drugs must be careful when it ...
-69 Can medications for controlling Epilepsy harm a nursing baby?
Always check with your physician if you are on anticonvulsants ...
-70 Can people living with Epilepsy drive a car?
In Ontario, the situation is that anyone with a history of Epilepsy ...
-71 Can people living with Epilepsy go swimming?
It is advised that before a person with Epilepsy goes swimming, ...
-72 Can Epilepsy lead to problems at school?
Longstanding seizure disorders may be associated with seizure-...
-73 Can Epilepsy cause emotional problems?
People with Epilepsy may develop depression for both biological ...
-74 Can Epilepsy lead to problems with self-esteem?
It is important to remember that people with Epilepsy can, and do, ...
-75 What occupations are not appropriate for people with Epilepsy?
Given that they are trained with appropriate sets of skills and/...
-76 Can people with Epilepsy fly a plane?
Persons with Epilepsy may not be able to fly a plane. There are ...
-77 Is there a problem with job safety?
Employers hiring someone with Epilepsy are often concerned that ...
-78 Can an employer ask about Epilepsy on a job application?
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Chapter 53, Section 22(2)), it ...
-79 Can an employer ask about Epilepsy during a job interview?
In the Ontario Human Rights Codes (Chapter 53, Section 22(3)), ...
-80 Can I be fired because I have Epilepsy?
The Ontario Human Rights Code does not permit employers to fire ...
-81 Can people with Epilepsy get social assistance?
A person who has Epilepsy may qualify for assistance to prepare for ...
-82 Is Epilepsy related to other neurological problems?
Epilepsy is not necessarily associated with other neurological ...
-83 Is Epilepsy related to mental illness?
Epilepsy is not related to mental illness. Because of the ...
-84 Can Epilepsy affect intelligence?
Seizures can affect intelligence, so prompt diagnosis and rapid ...
-85 Is there a link between memory loss and Epilepsy?
Some people with Epilepsy do experience a difficulty in ...
-86 Is Epilepsy related to asthma?
Asthma occurs in children with Epilepsy at about the same frequency ...
-87 Are there any diseases that persons with Epilepsy more prone to?
People with Epilepsy who are on medications may experience side ...
-88 Do animals get Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can occur in animals. Like humans, Epilepsy in animals ...
-89 Can dogs sense a seizure in humans before it strikes?
It is possible that some dogs are able to detect pre-seizure changes ...
-90 Where can I get more information about Epilepsy?
There are a number of information sources about Epilepsy. Here is ...
-91 What books are available on Epilepsy?
o EPILEPSY AND THE FAMILY by Richard Lechtenberg. Harvard Univ....
-92 Where can I find information on the Internet about Epilepsy?
o There are two Epilepsy-related mailing lists: Epilepsy-List ...









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