helpline 01494 601 400

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is not just one condition,
but a group of many different 'epilepsies'
with one thing in common: a tendency to
have seizures that start in the brain.

Epilepsy is usually only diagnosed after a person has had more than one seizure. Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Other conditions that can look like epilepsy include fainting, or very low blood sugar in some people being treated for diabetes. On this page, when we use the term 'seizure' we mean epileptic seizure.

Anyone can develop epilepsy, at any time of life. It happens in people of all ages, races and social classes. Epilepsy is most commonly diagnosed in children and in people over 65. There are over half a million people with epilepsy in the UK, so around 1 in 100 people.

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Download our Just Diagnosed booklet

Download our Just Diagnosed booklet for free here. Opens as PDF.

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Causes of epilepsy

The causes of different epilepsies can be complex and sometimes hard to identify, but may include a genetic tendency, a structural change in the brain, or a combination of both.

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Facts about epilepsy

Here's a list of interesting facts and statistics about epilepsy.

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Associated conditions

Information about seizures and treatment for people with epilepsy and learning disability and for people with Hemiplegia.

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Epilepsy terminology

Many common misconceptions surround epilepsy and epilepsy terminology. In this section we discuss the different terms used in association with epilepsy.

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Coming to terms with your epilepsy

You might be feeling lots of different emotions right now. People can react differently to a diagnosis. It may not be possible to think and feel positively. 

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What is epilepsy?

If you or someone you know has epilepsy, you may find it helpful to learn more. This page gives some basic facts about epilepsy, and points out where you can get more detailed information and help. 

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For more information about epilepsy and support, please contact our helpline on 01494 601 400 or email (open Monday and Tuesday 9-4pm, Wednesday 9-7.30pm).