Living with Epilepsy
One in every 100 people has epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological conditions.
This condition can affect anyone, at any age, but 75% of people have their first seizure before the age of 20. Epilepsy South Africa says, "While it can be a very serious condition, about 80% of people with the condition can control it successfully with anti-epilepsy medication, and many children with epilepsy will outgrow it."

What is epilepsy?

Every person’s brain fires millions of electrical impulses every second while they go about their everyday activities. Epilepsy causes the brain to sometimes fire these impulses in an unusual way for a little while – this is when a seizure occurs.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition and not a contagious disease, psychiatric disorder or mental illness. It can affect all people, of any colour or race, of any age, of any gender and across all levels of intelligence and social backgrounds.

There are many different kinds of seizures and a person will be diagnosed based on which kind of seizure they are having. For example there are generalised seizures that affect the whole brain and partial seizures that affect only a certain area of the brain.

There may be seizures where a person loses consciousness , stays awake and appears to be 'day dreaming', convulses, or goes very stiff, becomes very limp or can have a seizure while sleeping.

What causes epilepsy?

In 66% of the cases, the cause is unknown and this is called idiopathic epilepsy.

In the remaining cases, called symptomatic epilepsy, the condition could be caused by:
  • head or birth injury
  • infections
  • haemorrhage
  • strokes
  • tumours
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • aging
  • metabolic disturbances
What can you do if you are worried about your child?

"It is very important that a parent must be able to describe in detail what happens before, during and after the seizures, it can make a big difference in the effort to make an accurate diagnosis," explains Epilepsy South Africa.

Various tests will be done, including a detailed discussion, questions to be answered, an EEG (where your child’s brain activity will be measured), and possibly even a CT scan before the doctor can correctly diagnose the possible cause of, and the type of, epilepsy that a child may have.

Treatments for Epilepsy

Anti-epilepsy medication can control epilepsy successfully without causing any harmful side-effects. Sometimes, because seizures can be brought on by stress, boredom or emotional upset, psychological intervention is also helpful in assisting the child to cope with these potential triggers.

In a very small number of cases, surgery can also be very successful in treating the condition.

A look at a bright future

People with epilepsy will not necessarily have other intellectual challenges and most will go onto lead successful and fulfilling lives. In fact, some children will even outgrow the condition. It is important to create a positive environment for your child and family.

Epilepsy South Africa encourage parents to focus on their children’s ability, treating them like any other member of their family, making an effort to socialise with their children, trying not to be too overprotective, and stress that they must never blame their child for any hardships the family may endure.

Contact Epilepsy South Africa for information, support and guidance: Call 0860 374537 for your nearest local branch, email, or visit

Do you or your child have Epilepsy? Share your story with us below.

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