There are all sorts of problems about epilepsy. Epilepsy is the name given to recurrent ‘seizures’ (also known as ‘fits’, or ‘attacks’), of which the fairly well-known grand mal convulsions are only one type. A whole variety of brain disorders can cause epilepsy, which should perhaps be considered no more than a stereotyped reaction of the brain to a variety of stresses. It is not generally known that, in spite of the most modern methods of investigation, an underlying cause can only be identified with certainty in about one third of people with epilepsy. The good news that has emerged from research studies over the last twenty years is that the long-term outlook for the cessation of seizures is very much better than was previously considered to be the case, as earlier research referred only to people with epilepsy whose seizures were the most difficult to control.

People with epilepsy have many worries. Children with epilepsy may be upset or worried about telling their friends and what will happen to them in the future. Women with epilepsy are understandably concerned about the possible effects of anti-epileptic medication when pregnant. Not everyone understands the impact of epilepsy upon the eligibility to hold a driving licence. Many employers understand little about epilepsy, and people with epilepsy may not have the same possibilities of employment, or of career advancement.

Epilepsy can begin at any age in life, but is particularly likely to begin in early childhood. One of us is a paediatric neurologist with a particular interest in epilepsy, and the other works with adults with epilepsy.


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