Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system that affects about 2.5 million Americans. More than 180,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every year.

People have seizures when an adjacent group of electrical signals in the brain fires together in an uncontrolled manner. The brain's normal electrical activity is disrupted by these overactive electrical discharges, causing a temporary disturbance in function based on the location of that discharge. However, just because someone has a seizure does not necessarily mean that person has epilepsy. Seizures can be triggered in anyone under certain conditions. But when a person experiences a condition that causes repeated seizures, that person is said to have epilepsy.

Many people develop epilepsy as children or teens. Others develop it later in life. For some people with epilepsy (particularly kids), the seizures eventually become less frequent or disappear altogether. Epilepsy is not contagious, but a person who has a close relative with epilepsy may have a slightly higher risk for epilepsy than somebody with no family history of seizures.

Most people with epilepsy lead outwardly normal lives. While epilepsy cannot currently be cured by medicine for one third of patients, new surgical and nonsurgical management options keep emerging and can be sought for some people to eventually control their disease. Most seizures do not cause brain damage. It is not uncommon for people with epilepsy, especially children, to develop behavioral and emotional problems, sometimes the consequence of embarrassment and frustration or bullying, teasing, or avoidance in school and other social setting. For many people with epilepsy, the risk of seizures restricts their independence (some states refuse drivers licenses to people with epilepsy) and recreational activities.

People with epilepsy are at special risk for two life-threatening conditions: status epilepticus and sudden unexplained death. Most women with epilepsy can become pregnant, but they should discuss their epilepsy and the medications they are taking with their doctors.

Our specialty trained epilepsy team at MSU is operating at the highest standard national levels in terms of seizure and epilepsy management including the full utilization of our Sparrow Hospital state of the art facilities and epilepsy surgical monitoring unit to achieve best practice delivery to the patients in our community.

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