Diagnosis

The diagnosis of epilepsy is an important step in your epilepsy journey. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone – approximately 42 Canadians learn that they have epilepsy each day. If you’ve just received your diagnosis, learning more about your condition can help you know what to expect.

  • What is epilepsy?

    Let’s start with the basics: Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which people experience repeated seizures. It is a neurological condition that causes the brain to produce sudden bursts of electrical energy. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and are characterized by a variety of symptoms. These can range from simple blank staring to jerking limb movements, convulsions and a brief loss of consciousness.

  • Can I reduce my risk of seizures?

    If you have epilepsy and are experiencing seizures, you can help reduce the risk of a seizure by taking medication as prescribed by your doctor, getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, and seeing your neurologist or epileptologist regularly.

    Remember, treatment of epilepsy is different for each person, so it’s best to become as educated as possible. The good news is that you are not alone. At E-Action.ca, you’ll find plenty of encouragement, support, and epilepsy information to help you achieve your goal of freedom from seizures.

    If you or your loved one have had a seizure, a correct diagnosis is essential. After determining the exact kind of seizure you have and how it relates to any other kind of underlying medical condition you may have, a treatment plan can begin. But remember, the physician is treating the “whole” person, so the seizure could very likely be related to another condition that also needs treatment.

  • How common is epilepsy?

    Approximately 300,000 people in Canada have epilepsy. Epilepsy can occur in males and females at any age, but is most frequently seen in the very young and the elderly. There are more than twice as many people in Canada with epilepsy as the number with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.

  • Can epilepsy be prevented?

    Yes and no. Head injuries that result from sports or other accidents can cause epilepsy, but they are often preventable. Help avoid sports-related and bike injuries to the head by wearing a helmet. Seat belt use can help prevent head injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents. However, epilepsy can also occur without injury, or it can be hereditary or genetic. In fact, in most cases, the causes are unknown, and many researchers are still exploring the reasons why some people have epilepsy.

  • Can epilepsy be inherited?

    Certain types of epilepsy are more likely to be inherited than others. Primary generalized epilepsy, in which the seizures begin from both sides of the brain at the same time, are more likely to involve genetic factors than focal or partial epilepsy, in which the seizures arise from a limited area of the brain.

    If one or both parents have epilepsy, there is a risk of approximately 5% that it will be passed on. The vast majority of children will not inherit epilepsy from a parent. Keep in mind that many children may outgrow epilepsy, and most people who have it are able to treat it successfully and lead normal lives.