What’s It Like Living With Epilepsy


Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition, meaning it’s something you have for life. It causes seizures, which are sudden changes in behavior that may include jerking movements and loss of consciousness. Seizures vary widely in frequency and severity, but they can be frightening—even if you’ve had them before. Although epilepsy is often associated with young children who develop febrile seizures (which happen during fever) or brain injuries from accidents, anyone can get it. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with this condition or how much experience you have, there are things everyone needs to know about living with epilepsy:

Epilepsy is more than just a seizure disorder.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder. It’s not a mental illness, nor does it affect your personality or intelligence. Epilepsy is not contagious, nor is it the same as mental retardation or other developmental disabilities.

Epilepsy isn’t a result of bad parenting or poor nutrition—although these can sometimes be factors in its development.

There are different types of epilepsy and seizures.

There are different types of epilepsy and seizures. Epilepsy is the condition that causes seizures, which can be a single episode or recurrent. Seizures can vary in frequency, length and severity. There are over 20 types of seizures; some are more common than others. Some people have a single type but many have multiple types at different times during their lives.

There are many triggers that cause seizures for each individual person with epilepsy. These could include fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation or particular medications used to treat another condition (for example blood pressure medication). Some foods such as cheese and chocolate may also trigger seizures in some individuals with epilepsy if they eat it regularly on a daily basis

Seizures feel different for everyone, and can happen at any time.

Seizures can happen at any time, and they can feel different for everyone. “We don’t really know what’s happening in [the brain] during a seizure,” said Dr. Jody LeWitter, a neurologist and epilepsy specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. When they do occur, seizures tend to happen while you’re awake or asleep. You may notice that you have some strange thoughts or feelings before the seizure occurs—this is called an aura symptom.

If you experience these symptoms:

  • Stay calm! Try not to move around much because it could make the situation worse. If possible, get somewhere safe like lying down on the ground with your head away from traffic if there are cars nearby (if it’s safe). Do not go swimming alone if this happens while in water because your body might not be able to float up if something goes wrong underwater!
  • Call 911 right away if anyone else is around who can help out until paramedics arrive (it might take them 15-20 minutes).

Epilepsy affects more people than you think.

Epilepsy is a relatively common neurological disorder that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s the fourth most common neurological disorder in the U.S., and approximately 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives.

In fact, there are many famous people who have had epilepsy! One of these is Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from seizures throughout his life. Elvis Presley had severe grand mal seizures until age 21; he would sometimes vomit for hours after he collapsed on stage during one particular performance (he continued singing through it). Michael J. Fox also has been open about his battle with temporal lobe epilepsy since 1992 when one of his mildest seizures caused him to walk off set during filming of “Family Ties”. In addition to these high-profile cases, there are many other individuals who live with epilepsy every day without having any obvious symptoms—they may not even know they have it!

Managing your health can help reduce the number of seizures you experience.

Managing your health can help reduce the number of seizures you experience. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Taking medications as prescribed.
  • Getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet.
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle with regular exercise, even if it’s not for sport or recreation purposes.

It’s also important to avoid alcohol and illegal drugs, which can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize medications properly.

There are side effects of epilepsy medications.

You may experience side effects, but these can often be managed. Side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness and weight gain. You should talk to your doctor if you are having a lot of side effects that affect your daily life. Your dosage may need to be adjusted so that the drug is effective while causing minimal or no side effects. Some people find it helpful to take their epilepsy medications at night so they don’t feel drowsy during the day.[6]

There are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding epilepsy, but there’s also a lot of support.

Epilepsy is a complex condition. There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding it, but there’s also a lot of support. It’s important to talk about experiences and ask questions—if you’re lucky, your doctor will know about their patients’ conditions and may be able to answer your questions. If not, check out the Epilepsy Foundation or Ask an Epileptologist on Twitter for more information! You can also find support groups online or in person at local hospitals; these places will help you navigate living with epilepsy without feeling alone or like you’re going crazy.

Living with epilepsy can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make it easier.

Living with epilepsy can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make it easier.

  • You can help yourself by managing your health. You may need to keep a seizure diary, which means writing down when you have a seizure and how long it lasts. Your doctor will use this information to help manage your condition.
  • Find support groups online or in person. Knowing others who are going through similar experiences can be really helpful, especially if they’ve tried different treatments before coming up with something that works well for them and their lifestyle.
  • Talk to your doctor about your concerns. They should be able to give you advice on how best to manage the side effects of epilepsy in everyday life (for example: avoiding certain foods, getting enough sleep at night). If they recommend any specific treatment plans then follow these carefully!


The bottom line is that living with epilepsy can be tough, but it’s not impossible. You should always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about the condition. The more you know about what’s going on in your body, the better equipped you’ll be to manage it.

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