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