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Epilepsy - What Happens

Although epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders involving the nervous system, experts often cannot explain exactly how or why the disease develops and how or why the abnormal electrical activity in the brain occurs. Epilepsy does not always follow a predictable course. It can develop at any age and may get worse over time or get better.

Although uncommon, epilepsy that begins in a specific area of the brain may eventually affect another part of the brain. Some types of childhood epilepsy disappear after the child reaches the teenage years. Other types may continue for life. Epilepsy that started after a head injury may disappear after several years or may last the rest of your life.

Recommended Related to Epilepsy

Understanding Seizures -- Symptoms

Symptoms of seizures vary widely, depending on the part of the brain affected by the electrical misfiring. If a very small part of the brain is affected, you might sense only an odd smell or taste. In other cases, you could have hallucinations or convulsions, or you could lose consciousness. Generalized tonic-clonic. This type of seizure is sometimes preceded by an aura (awareness of a strange odor, taste, or vision). You might lose consciousness, fall, and experience muscle rigidity (stiffness)...

Read the Understanding Seizures -- Symptoms article > >

There is no cure for epilepsy. But treatment can control epileptic seizures, sometimes preventing them from ever occurring again.

Quality of life

Epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures can put limitations on your independence, self-esteem, and quality of life. With epilepsy, you may have trouble getting or keeping a driver's license. If you become pregnant, complications can occur. Your career choices may be limited. Some people with epilepsy face discrimination at work or school due to other people's fears and misconceptions about this condition.

The good news is that proper treatment may allow you to control seizures, which can lead to improved quality of life and allow you to better cope with the disorder.

Finding out you have epilepsy can be hard. You may not be able to do some of the things you used to take for granted (such as driving a car). Epilepsy is also a disease that can be hard to treat for some people, especially at first. You may need to try many different types of medicines before you find one that works just right. All of these things may make you feel sad or angry. It may help you to talk to a psychologist or counselor if you are feeling bad about having epilepsy.

Concerns about mental health or intelligence

Epilepsy does not cause and is not a form of mental illness. And in general it does not affect your ability to think and learn. Most people with epilepsy have normal intelligence. Children with epilepsy may have a hard time performing in school, but this is usually not the result of below-normal intelligence. Frequent absence seizures, for instance, may explain why a child seems to "zone out" or not pay attention during class. Some medicines used to control seizures may affect a child's ability to stay focused at school.

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