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Young people and epilepsy

Information for young people about epilepsy including how it may affect your life, education, relationships, driving or worklife. 

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Introduction to epilepsy

An introduction to epilepsy and treatment for young people.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is the tendency to have seizures that start in the brain. The brain uses electrical signals to pass messages between brain cells. If these signals are disrupted, this can lead to a seizure. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed when someone has had more than one seizure. Seizures can affect your feelings, awareness or movement. Different types of seizures involve different things. These may include confusion, strange feelings, repetitive movements, 'blank' moments (where you are briefly unconscious), muscle jerks, sudden falls, or convulsions (jerking movements while unconscious).

Sex and relationships

It's not unusual for people to worry about their sex life, whether they have epilepsy or not. Getting close to someone else can be great but it can also leave you feeling vulnerable. What if they go off me? What if something embarrassing happens? Do I tell them about my epilepsy? You may worry about having a seizure during sex, but it is usually no more likely than having a seizure at any other time. Going out with someone who you can really talk to and who understands your epilepsy can be great. Sometimes it can be helpful for you to find out how they feel about your epilepsy too.

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Sports and spare time

Most people with epilepsy can do most sports, but it does depend on how your epilepsy affects you. 

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School, college or university

Information for young people about getting the most out of their time in education

Learning to drive

If you have had no seizures for at least one year, you can learn to drive a car or motorbike at 17. When you apply for your provisional driving licence, the driver and vehicle licensing agency (DVLA) (opens new window), will need to know about your epilepsy, even if you are not currently having seizures.

The DVLA will ask you to fill in some forms. They may also contact your doctor to ask about your epilepsy before they send you your licence.

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Driving and getting about

Getting around and being independent is an important part of growing up. Find out about epilepsy and driving, transport and travelling.

What jobs can I do?

If you have the right qualifications or experience and your seizures don't put you or the people you work with at risk then you should be able to apply for most jobs. If you have seizures, you may not be able to do jobs that risk your safety or the safety of other people. These include:

  • jobs that involve driving
  • working at heights, near open water or fire
  • working with unguarded machinery.

Whether or not you can work on active service in the Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) depends on your epilepsy. For example, if you have epilepsy now you wouldn’t be able to join the Armed Forces. If you had epilepsy as a child (under five years old) or a single seizure more than ten years ago, you may be able to join.

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Getting work

Answering young people’s questions about work, employment and epilepsy.

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Your feelings

Whether you've had epilepsy for a long time or if it's something that's new, you might have questions or concerns about it.

Taken from our Your epilepsy - now and next booklet. Order this booklet from our online shop as part of our 'first five free' offer, or download the pdf using the link below.