Banner Health’s experienced, compassionate team is dedicated to helping patients with epilepsy regain control of their lives. Our highly skilled specialists use the most advanced treatments available for epilepsy and seizure disorders. Our multidisciplinary team works with you to build a treatment plan tailored to your needs and focused on optimizing your quality of life. 

What Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, about three million Americans have epilepsy, making it the fourth most common neurological disease after migraines, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

If you have a seizure, it doesn’t mean you have epilepsy. However, if you have two or more, it may be epilepsy. 

Seizures can cause a range of symptoms, from momentarily staring blankly to several minutes of unconsciousness and uncontrollable twitching. Even a mild seizure can be unsafe if it happens during activities like swimming or driving.

What Causes Epilepsy?

Anyone can develop epilepsy. In general, it’s most common in children and older adults. It’s also slightly more prevalent in women than men. 

Usually, it’s difficult to determine the cause of someone’s epilepsy. Some contributing factors may include brain injury, stroke, fever, dementia, infections, brain tumors, vascular diseases and genetics. Some people may be able to identify seizure triggers, such as lack of sleep, stress, bright/flashing lights, caffeine/alcohol/medicines or specific foods. 

In general, regular sleep, effective stress management, and avoiding environmental triggers, combined with taking medications as prescribed, may lower your risk of having a seizure.

Learn more about seizure causes and risk factors.

What Are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?

Seizures can vary greatly, but some more common symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Staring blankly
  • Odd, repetitive behaviors
  • Twitching, jerking or stiffening
  • Difficulty speaking

Depending on the area of the brain affected, you can experience a general seizure or a focal (partial) seizure. Learn more about types of seizures and their symptoms.

How Is Epilepsy Diagnosed?

Not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy. Generally, you are diagnosed with epilepsy if you have two or more seizures with unknown causes. To rule out other causes and understand what part of the brain the seizure occurs, your doctor may recommend a neurological exam, blood test and imaging testing.

Learn more about Epilepsy Diagnosis and Testing.

How Is Epilepsy Treated?

Researchers are learning more about epilepsy and ways to treat it every day. Currently, while there isn’t a cure for epilepsy, treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms and maximize your quality of life.

Learn more about Epilepsy Treatment and Support.