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Epilepsy Facts and Statistics

... affects 1% of the general population ... and 2-5% of children; 10% of these children will develop epilepsy later in life

Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by recurring seizures, which are caused by electrical disturbances in the nerve cells in a section of the brain. Reported incidences and prevalence of epilepsy has varied because of uncontrolled data gathering methods. The most accurate records available indicate that chronic, recurrent epilepsy is about 10 per 1,000 or 1% of the general population. About 2-5% of children will experience febrile convulsions in the first several years of life; and 10% of these children will develop epilepsy later in life. L.J. Willmore, J. A. Ferrendelli. Scientific American Medicine: Epilepsy New York, NY:Scientific American. 1997. p. 11. XII-1-14.

... results from nerve injury, brain injury or lesions, or some systemic diseases.
...even a high fever may cause damage that later results in seizures.

While the cause or causes of many cases of epilepsy are unknown, the condition is thought to result from nerve injury, brain injury or lesions, or some systemic diseases. People can become seizure-prone for many different reasons, according to Dr. James Neubrander, M.D., a doctor in private practice in Hopewell, New Jersey, with a special interest in epilepsy and nutrition, "an injury to the brain from an accident, a stroke or lack of oxygen during birth, alcohol abuse, poisoning, a severe bacterial or viral infection such as meningitis or encephalitis, or even a high fever (as an infant or young child) may all cause seizures."

In 70-80% of all cases the probable cause can usually be traced to match the most common presumptive causes of epilepsy. The role of genetic factors is unclear, but a correlation does seem to exist since the prevalence of seizures in close relatives of an epileptic is three times that of the overall population. However confusion exists as to whether it is epilepsy that is hereditary or whether it is other genetic factors that make an individuals body susceptible to infections, birthing difficulties, metabolic disorders, etc. which then cause epilepsy to occur.

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Epilepsy Seizures

During diagnosis, a careful monitoring of seizures is important to discern the area of problem in the nervous system or brain.During diagnosis, a careful monitoring of seizures is important to discern the area of problem in the nervous system or brain. Exactly what circumstances trigger a seizure? How does it begin? As it progresses, what feelings and sensations happen during the seizure? What parts of the body are affected? All these factors are of great importance to determine the severity of the problem, how closely it is associated to dietary intake and nutrition, and if necessary which drugs will best affect the problematic brain or nerve area.

There are several types of seizures:

  • Absence (petit mal)--This type of seizure is most common in children. It is characterized by a blank stare lasting about half a minute; the person appears to be daydreaming. During this type of seizure, the individual is unaware of his or her surroundings.

  • Atonic (drop attack)--A childhood seizure in which the child loses consciousness for about ten seconds and usually falls to the ground because of a complete loss of muscle tone.

  • A blank stare, random activity, and a chewing motion are characteristic of a complex partial seizure.Complex partial (temporal lobe)--A blank stare, random activity, and a chewing motion are characteristic of this type of seizure. The person may be dazed and unaware of his or her surroundings, and may act oddly. There is no memory of this seizure. A person may experience a distinctive warning sign called an aura before this type of seizure. The aura is itself a form of partial seizure, but one in which the person retains awareness. The aura may be experienced as a peculiar odor, "butterflies" in the stomach, or a sound. One man with epilepsy, an ardent racetrack gambler, said he would always hear the roar of a crowd, followed by the name of a favorite racehorse, just before he lost consciousness.

  • Generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal)--This type of seizure is characterized by sudden cries, a fall, rigidity and jerking of the muscles, shallow breathing, and bluish skin. Loss of bladder control is possible. The seizure usually lasts two to five minutes, and is followed by confusion, fatigue, and/or memory loss. It can be frightening to witness, especially for the first-time observer.

  • Myoclonic--Brief, massive muscle jerks occur.

  • Simple partial (Jacksonian)--Jerking begins in the fingers and toes and progresses up through the body. The person remains conscious.

  • Simple partial (sensory)--The person may see, hear, or sense things that do not exist. This may occur as a preliminary symptom of generalized seizure.

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Epilepsy Nutritional Support Strategies

Effective help is available for people who want to proactively manage their epilepsy. The traditional approach is medications but a massive amount of nutrient research validates the effect diet and supplements can have for the body to heal. Lifestyle changes can also make a big difference.

Our Epilepsy Self-management Program will give you this nutrient association information as well as other helpful lifestyles changes for managing your condition. We also include the Center for Disease Control Framework for Epilepsy Management to help you understand on a large scale what the government is doing.

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