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epilepsy myths

Epilepsy is often misunderstood with different facts and myths surrounding the condition despite over 500,000 people in the UK having epilepsy.  We want to dispel the many myths that still exist and bring you important information about seizures, seizure triggers and epilepsy first aid.

MYTH 1: You convulse (shake and jerk) when you have epilepsy

FACT 1: Not every seizure means a person jerks convulsively, nor is a person always unconscious during a seizure. Convulsions while unconscious are usually associated with tonic clonic seizures. There are a range of seizures which have different side effects and can affect people differently. Find out more about the different seizures.

There are over 40 different types of seizures, epileptic seizures are caused by a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain. There are many different types of epileptic seizure and no all seizures are convulsions.

MYTH 2: Flashing lights cause seizures in everyone with epilepsy

FACT 2: Around 1 in 100 people has epilepsy, and of these people, around 3% have photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive epilepsy is more common in children and young people (up to 5%) and is less commonly diagnosed after the age of 20. Triggers differ from person to person, but common triggers include a lack of sleep, stress, and alcohol. Find out more about seizure triggers.

Only around 3% of people with epilepsy will be affected by flashing lights or some geometric pattern

MYTH 3: You can restrain someone during a convulsive seizure and put your finger in their mouth

FACT 3: During a convulsive seizure you should never hold the person down or put anything in their mouth. It's important to know exactly what to do when someone has a tonic clonic seizure so that you can act quickly. Here's our 10 first aid steps for someone that has a convulsive seizure.

What to do if someone has a convulsive seizure

MYTH 4: Epilepsy is rare

FACT 4: Epilepsy is anything but rare, over 500,000 people in the UK have epilepsy. That’s about one in every 100 people. There are also around 60 million people with epilepsy in the world.  Anyone can develop epilepsy, it happens in all ages, races and social classes. Read more facts and statistics about epilepsy.

1 in 100 people have epilepsy

MYTH 5: The only side effects of a seizure are tiredness and being confused

FACT 5: Having epilepsy can affect people in different ways. Knowing that a person ‘has epilepsy’ does not tell you very much about what happens for them or how epilepsy affects them. For example, some people may have problems with sleep or memory and for some people epilepsy may affect their mental health. Here's some more key issues that affect people with epilepsy.