About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by recurrent electrical disturbances, or seizures. Up to 3.5 million people in the United States suffer from epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological conditions.

An epileptic seizure occurs when an abnormal electrical discharge occurs in the cells of the brain. Seizures can be caused by a brain injury, stroke, tumor, infection, or family tendency. They also can occur after brain surgery. For approximately 65 percent of those who suffer seizures, however, the cause is unknown.

Symptoms of a seizure vary. They can include an unusual sensation, confusion, loss of consciousness or awareness, shaking of a limb, convulsions, or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Epileptic seizures are grouped into two categories: generalized seizures and partial seizures. Partial seizures start in one focal region of the brain, while generalized seizures start in all areas of the brain at once. Psychogenic seizures, which are also common, are not epileptic, although they can mimic epileptic seizures and require advanced diagnostic evaluation.