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Epilepsy 101

You may already know the answer to this question. If not, you can discuss this with your doctor. Learn more about the different types of seizures.

For some people with epilepsy, it is a childhood disorder that goes into remission (the seizures go away). For other people with epilepsy, it is a lifelong condition. Learn more about epilepsy and seizures.

This will depend on what type of seizures you have, what is causing the seizures, or how your seizures change during your life. It will also depend on how well medications you are taking control your seizures.

Yes. The type of seizures, how often you have seizures, and how severe the seizures are may change over time.

Some people with epilepsy may have changes in their brain caused by seizures that lead to problems. Every seizure increases the chance of having another seizure. Multiple seizures can cause damage to the brain, but not permanent “brain damage.” For example, some people may have trouble thinking, focusing, or solving problems. Some people have memory changes or have learning problems because of their epilepsy.

Some people with epilepsy may have accidents or injuries because of seizures. For example, if you fall during a seizure, it’s possible you could break a bone. It’s also possible that seizures can lead to some hearing or vision loss in some people.

It is possible to die from a seizure. There is something called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) that is the most common cause of epilepsy-related deaths. SUDEP is more common in people with generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Also, people with epilepsy have a greater chance of experiencing accidents and injuries. Therefore, an accident or injury resulting from a seizure could be severe enough to cause death. There are things you can do to potentially reduce the risk of SUDEP.

Probably not, but it's possible. Most children will not inherit epilepsy from a parent. Offspring of parents with epilepsy are 2 to 10 times more likely to have epilepsy than offspring of unaffected parents, depending on the type of epilepsy.

Treating Your Epilepsy

Keep a seizure tracker to record how often your seizures are happening. If you are having fewer seizures than when you started taking your medication, your medication is probably working.

Keep track of your side effects. They may go away the longer you take your epilepsy medication. If your side effects are bothering you or stopping you from taking the medication, talk to your doctor about whether other medications might be right for you. Your doctor might change the dose to find out if the side effects go away.

Talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to adjust your medication or find a way for you to take fewer pills and still control your seizures.

Living With Epilepsy

There are many websites for epilepsy information.

You may be able to find a local Epilepsy Foundation support group. There are also many online support groups for people with epilepsy. Here are some trusted online communities:

The more your family knows about epilepsy, the more likely they will be able to support you. All members of your family should know what to do, and what not to do, when you have a seizure. You can create a seizure action plan and talk about it with your family. Your family members might also be able to help you manage your epilepsy by helping make sure you take your medication. Share with them the Living With Epilepsy information on this site to help them understand what to do if a seizure happens. Ask them what questions they have. The Epilepsy Foundation website also has more information about talking to your family.

Even though you might feel nervous talking about your epilepsy, or feel like you want to hide your epilepsy, it's important to tell your friends. If you have a seizure, your friends will need to know what to do to help you. Pick a time and place where you're comfortable and won’t be interrupted. You might want to use a conversation starter, such as “Did I ever tell you why I take medicine every day? It’s because I have epilepsy and the medicine helps prevent seizures.” The Epilepsy Foundation website has other conversation starters that might be helpful.

Dating can be hard for anyone. It can be even harder to decide when to tell someone you are in a relationship with that you have epilepsy. If your seizures are well controlled, you may want to wait until you feel comfortable with the other person before talking about your epilepsy. If your seizures are not well controlled, you might want to talk about your epilepsy sooner rather than later. If you are spending a lot of time with someone, you probably want to talk about your epilepsy so they know what is happening if you have a seizure and what they can do to help keep you safe. The Epilepsy Foundation website has more information about dating (https://www.epilepsy.com/stories/relationships-epilepsy-exploring-challenges).

You could also talk to other people with epilepsy about how they handle dating situations. Psychologists and social workers might be able to provide tips about how to talk to people you are dating about your epilepsy.