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Catamenial epilepsy – when seizures only happen at certain times during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This might be at ovulation or during her period. Some women have seizures at particular times during their cycle and at other times: this is not catamenial epilepsy.

Cause – the reason why someone’s epilepsy has started. Some people have a physical cause (symptomatic epilepsy) such as a scar on their brain, because of a head injury or due to an infection. For others, their epilepsy is genetic or inherited (idiopathic epilepsy). The cause of epilepsy is different from a trigger (which causes - or brings on - a seizure).

Cell body  – the 'control centre' of the neurone.

Cell or plasma membrane  – the outside wall or coating of the neurone.

Central nervous system  – the brain and spinal cord.

Cerebellum  – the part of the brain that lies under the cerebrum and coordinates the activity of the other areas of the brain.

Cerebrospinal fluid – 'cerebr' means brain, so this is the brain-spine fluid that surrounds and protects the brain.

Cerebrum – the largest area of the brain, which is made up of two halves. 

Childbearing age – the time between when periods start and the menopause, when a woman or girl can conceive a child.

Childhood epilepsy syndrome – a type of epilepsy that happens in children and young people, and follows a particular, typical pattern: the age that the seizures start, the type of seizures, the EEG recording and the progression or outcome. Some syndromes are benign and either go away or have little impact on the child. Others are severe and can affect the child’s behaviour, learning and life expectancy. This is sometimes just referred to as a ‘syndrome’.

Chronic side effect  – side effects that happen after a drug has been taken for a long time, usually many years. What the side effect is like varies from one person to another and one drug to another. Chronic, in this context, means long-term: it does not mean ‘really bad’.

Chrono and Prolonged release – slow-release. Sometimes called sustained, controlled  or modified release. In slow-release forms, the active ingredient of a drug is released into your digestive system more slowly than other, non slow-release forms.

Clonic seizures  – these are seizures where the person convulses (jerks or shakes). Unlike tonic clonic seizures, the person does not go stiff at the start of the seizure.

Clusters – when a series or group of seizures happen close together in time, with gaps between each cluster. For example, in catamenial epilepsy, a woman might have a cluster of seizures around ovulation and no seizures at other times.

Communication – how neurones send and receive messages.

Community care assessment  – an assessment done by a social worker to help identify any needs that someone may have due to a disability or condition, and to identify what help they can get. This is also often called an ‘assessment of needs’ and should involve a risk assessment.

Complementary therapies  – these are treatments and therapies that are sometimes used alongside conventional medications. Complementary therapies include aromatherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy and reflexology. These therapies are not generally used to treat epilepsy but some people use them alongside anti-epileptic drugs. Some therapies can make seizures worse.

Complex focal seizures (CFS) – seizures that involve just part (not the whole) of the brain. These seizures used to be called 'complex partial seizures' or 'CPS'. The person will not be fully conscious and they are often very confused and may not remember what happens during the seizure. During CFS the person may behave strangely or make repetitive movements called automatisms. CFS that happen in the temporal lobe are often about 2 – 3 minutes long (about the length of a song) and in the frontal lobe, about 15 – 30 seconds long (about the length of a TV advert). CFS that happen in the temporal lobe are sometimes called temporal lobe epilepsy.

Complex partial seizures (CPS)  – see Complex focal seizures.

Consistency of supply  - getting the same form of medication with each prescription.

Concordance  – this describes a relationship between a ‘doctor’ and a ‘patient’, where the individual is responsible for making decisions about their healthcare and treatment, and the doctor supports and helps the individual to do this. This term is often used to refer to more than just 'taking treatment', to include a more holistic approach to healthcare.

Contraception  (birth control) - a variety of methods used to prevent pregnancy.

Convulsive seizure  – a seizure where the person’s body jerks or shakes. It is another name for tonic clonic or clonic seizures.

Cranial nerves  – 12 pairs of nerves that start in the brain and connect to different parts fo the body. They include the optic nerves (responsible for vision) the trigeminal nerves (responsible for, among other things, controlling the muscles for chewing and relaying information about pain from the mouth and face).

CT or CAT scan  – this is a type of scanning machine that takes X-ray pictures to show the inside of the body. CT stands for Computerised Axial Tomography. In epilepsy, CT scans may be used to look at the structure of someone’s brain to see if there is a structural cause for their epilepsy. Nowadays, MRI scans are used more often than CT scans.

Cysts  - a fluid filled sac that can happen in various parts of the body. For example, ovarian cysts are formed by eggs that are not properly developed.