Epilepsy Awareness

The following is from one of our partners, the Epilepsy Foundation. Visit the Foundation’s website at www.epilepsy.com. Our local Foundation affiliate is the Epilepsy Foundation of Western and Central Pennsylvania. To find the affiliate serving your area, enter your zip code here.

About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic condition of the brain that affects people all over the world.  It is characterized by recurring seizures — which are physical reactions to sudden, brief, excessive electrical discharges in brain cells. Anyone, anywhere, at any time can have a seizure.

The physical reactions of a seizure depend on which part and how much of the brain is impacted by the excessive electrical discharges. Although most people think of a seizure as a full-body convulsion, seizures can also be brief muscle jerks or unconscious behaviors like picking at clothing or what appear to be lapses of attention, like daydreaming. The frequency of seizures varies greatly, from once in a while, to several per day.

Epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest known medical conditions, and yet too many people do not understand it. In too many cases, this misunderstanding has led to fear, discrimination and isolation By talking about epilepsy and seizures we can reduce the fear and misunderstanding, so the lives of millions of people around the world — people living with the condition and their loved ones — will be forever changed for the better.

Here are some key numbers (in Tweet-size bites) to talk about it!

  • 65 MILLION: Number of people around the world who have epilepsy.
  • MORE THAN 2 MILLION: Number of people in the United States who have epilepsy.
  • BETWEEN 4 AND 10 OUT OF 1,000: Number of people on earth who live with active seizures at any one time.
  • 200,000: Number of new cases of epilepsy in the United States
  • ONE-THIRD: Number of people with epilepsy who live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatment works for them.
  • 6 OUT OF 10: Number of people with epilepsy where the cause is unknown.
  • 90 PERCENT: The percentage of people with epilepsy who live in developing nations.
1381647 647995791900352 889828016 n
epilepsy collage
Knowing the Facts

Epilepsy is one of the oldest known medical conditions. The first book on epilepsy was written by the Greek physician Hippocrates (of the famous Hippocratic Oath). His book was called “On the Sacred Disease,” written around 400 BC. People believed people having seizures were potentially able to see the future. Some also believed epilepsy came from evil spirits. Hippocrates’ book tried to dissuade people from those beliefs. Hippocrates knew epilepsy was a condition of the brain.


Even today, some people still believe epilepsy is the work of evil spirits. Many other myths also still persist. It is up to all of us to know the facts about epilepsy … and to talk about them as much as we can, so the truth can finally get out there for everyone.

FACT: If someone is having a seizure, NEVER put anything in their mouth!

No one can swallow their tongue, that is a very persistent myth we have to end. Trying to put something in someone’s mouth while they have a seizure could significantly hurt the person. It could damage their jaw or teeth. And it is simply NEVER the thing to do.

FACT: If someone is having a seizure, NEVER hold them down or restrain them in any way!

When someone has a convulsive seizure, their legs and arms will move in a jerking fashion. This is the muscle response to the excessive electrical discharge happening in their brain. As long as the person is not in any danger, like near an object that can hurt them, it is important to let the seizure take its course — usually just a minute or two. Restraining the person may hurt them. Just make sure they are safe, and stay with them until the seizure ends.

FACT: Epilepsy is NOT Contagious.

There is no way anyone can ‘catch’ epilepsy. Not possible. Ever.

FACT: Epilepsy should NOT be a barrier to happiness and success.

While epilepsy varies in treatment and severity on an individual basis, one should always do their best to keep a positive outlook and strive to live the best life you can. We each face our own challenges every day. And it is up to our personal strength and our community of support in family and friends to help us through whatever we face.

Show Your Support

One of the most difficult aspects of life facing people living with epilepsy is the way other people react to the condition.

If we work together to talk about what epilepsy is, by focusing on the facts and helping end the myths, we can help make sure everyone reacts with what we all deserve: understanding, support and compassion.

We need to keep talking and pay it forward!