By Ashtyn Britt
Epilepsy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “any of various disorders marked by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and typically manifested by sudden brief episodes of altered or diminished consciousness, involuntary movements, or convulsions.” The month of November is dedicated to the further awareness and education of epilepsy in order to best understand and help those who have it. According to cdc.gov, epilepsy can be caused, in theory, by many different things, but for the most part, is still unclear. Some theoretical causes could include “stroke, brain tumor, traumatic brain injury or head injury, or a central nervous system infection.” Part of the reason that there is still so much to learn is that there are different kinds of seizures, which means there are different potential causes that lead to these seizures.
According to the International League Against Epilepsy, or ILAE, there are three main types of seizures as a result of epilepsy. These three categories are focal onset, generalized, and unknown onset. Focal onset seizures are roughly 60 percent of epileptic seizures and can last for up to two minutes. General seizures are roughly 30 percent of epileptic seizures, and tend to last longer and have more serious effects than focal onset seizures, including a loss of consciousness. Unknown onset seizures make up roughly 20 percent of epileptic seizures but are often referred to as nonepileptic seizures because they are not caused by the electrical discharge found in the brain that causes the other two types of seizures.
According to the CDC, “In 2015, 1.2% of the US population had active epilepsy (95% CI* = 1.1-1.4). This is about 3.4 million people with epilepsy nationwide: 3 million adults and 470,000 children, and has caused the death of many people, including public figures such as Disney star Cameron Boyce in 2019. Epilepsy is a serious condition with many unknown factors and deserves further funding for research in order to obtain good treatments to resolve it. For those interested in helping in honor of National Epilepsy Month, donations can be made to the Epilepsy Foundation at epilepsy.com/make-difference/ in order to help contribute funds towards epilepsy research.