Play clip on YouTubeTo have epilepsy is to have a tendency to have recurring seizures. A seizure is a brief and temporary malfunction of normal brain activity and is often compared to a computer crashing. You can find out more about seizures here.

Research carried out by Epilepsy Ireland in 2009 found that there are 37,000 (1 in every 115) people with epilepsy in this country and that this number may be increasing.

Epilepsy is very much a hidden disability. For many people, it may only affect them for a short period in their lives and can be controlled by medication, or in some instances, surgery. However, there are a still a minimum of 10,000 people with uncontrolled epilepsy in Ireland.

For this group in particular, epilepsy can lead to significant long-term disability. A diagnosis of epilepsy involves learning to cope with the physical impact of seizures; the medications prescribed to control them and impaired psychological & social functioning. Loss of one's driver's license, employment and educational challenges and social stigma are all potential issues that may cause as many problems as the seizures themselves.

In more than half of all cases, no cause can be found as to why someone has epilepsy. It seems that some of us just have a greater propensity than others to have seizures. Sometimes a cause can be found. Anything that damages or injures the brain can result in epilepsy e.g. head injuries, strokes, brain infections and birth defects. Research has also discovered that some forms of epilepsy have been linked to the inheritance of specific genes.

As many as 140 people in Ireland die as a result of epilepsy each year, of which about half are due to a phenomenon known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)


Visit the main epilepsy.ie site to find out more about epilepsy

More about seizures