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Epilepsy facts

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When you are first told of a diagnosis of epilepsy you may have lots of questions. Although epilepsy is a common condition there are many types. People with epilepsy may need different types of treatment and support. Often people know little about it at first. Sometimes, what we believe about epilepsy might be based on someone we knew in the past so it is good to get the facts.

  • 1 in 115 people in Ireland have epilepsy
  • That’s nearly 37,000 men, women, and children over age 5
  • More than 10,000 are children, 10,000 are women of childbearing age
  • Rates of epilepsy are rising among the over 65’s
  • Anyone can develop epilepsy at any age
  • More than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy
  • Diagnosis is based on EEG, CT, MRI, other tests, history and clinical opinion
  • Diagnosis is usually based on 2 or more unprovoked seizures
  • But a person can be diagnosed on a first seizure in some cases 
  • Many people have normal tests and scans but can be diagnosed with epilepsy
  • In around 50% of cases the cause is not known
  • Most people have no family history
  • Causes can include brain injury and brain infections, strokes, genetic factors, developmental disability
  • Causes are different to triggers. Triggers are factors which can make seizures more likely
  • 70% of people have their seizures controlled by medication
  • But 30% continue to have seizures that are more difficult to control
  • Epilepsy medication is free to all on the Long Term Illness Scheme
  • Surgery is an option for some people and can be very successful
  • Some seizures affect awareness but others don’t