Epilepsy, what is it?

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes frequent seizures. Electrical activity is happening in our brains all the time, as networks of tiny brain cells send messages to each other.

These messages control all our thoughts, movements, senses, and body functions. A seizure happens when there is a sudden, intense burst of electrical activity, or misfire, in the brain. This causes the messages between cells to get mixed up. The result is an epileptic seizure. These things have lots of names like fits, seizures, funny turns, and attacks.

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Just for kids

Do you have epilepsy?

There are more than 50,000 children with epilepsy in the UK, so you’re not alone!

Want to know more? Explore this site to learn all about epilepsy.

What happens when you have a seizure?


How a seizure affects you depends on what area of the brain is involved in this misfire. A person might lose consciousness or might stay aware of what’s happening around them. They might have strange sensations, or movements you can’t control, or they might go stiff, fall to the floor and shake. Other things that might happen are shaking/jerking, drooling, losing focus, vomiting and other symptoms. Some people may also wet themselves. Some people get a warning before a seizure, and some people also may feel confused or tired after the seizure

Anyone can have a one-off seizure, but it doesn’t always mean they have epilepsy. People are usually only diagnosed with epilepsy if their doctor thinks there’s a high chance they could have more seizures.

When does epilepsy start?

Epilepsy can start at any age and there are many different types.

Some types last for a limited time, but for many people, epilepsy can be a life-long condition.

Living with epilepsy and how it makes you feel

Epilepsy can be frightening, and it can feel lonely.  Sometimes people just don't understand what people with epilepsy are dealing with. Most people with epilepsy lead full, active lives, attend mainstream school, participate in sports, and have no other medical problems. Many young people with epilepsy can fully control their seizures with medication, and some may grow out of their epilepsy.

Young people living with epilepsy say how important it is for them to understand their condition, and how making connections with other young people and hearing their experiences really helps.

How to get more information

For more information about epilepsy, to get involved or to find out about what support is available please visit Epilepsy Action or Young Epilepsy

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