There are 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK today — that’s almost one person in every 100. Epilepsy can affect anyone at any time and knows no barriers.
Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological conditions worldwide and is described as a tendency to have recurrent seizures (sometimes called fits). A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain, causing a temporary disruption in the normal messages passing between brain cells.
Epilepsy can affect anyone at any time, although it is more common in childhood and later life. There are many types of epilepsy and many ways in which it can affect people. As yet there is no cure but, with effective treatment and management, up to 70 per cent of people can control seizures with medication.
People with epilepsy carry a higher risk of dying unexpectedly because of their seizures. This is called sudden unexpected death from epilepsy (SUDEP). The risk increases if seizures are not well controlled.
Improving public knowledge
Purple Day (26 March) is the international day for epilepsy awareness. Members of the Joint Epilepsy Council (JEC) are working hard to raise understanding and dispel the many myths and fears that continue to surround the condition. People with epilepsy experience prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives and we are striving to improve public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards them. Better understanding leads to better support and wellbeing — something we should all be able to take for granted.
Most people with the condition should be seizure free, but services are often inadequate.
The JEC and its members continue to work to drive epilepsy up the political agenda. We believe people with epilepsy need access to the best possible care. Most people with the condition should be seizure free, but services are often inadequate with detrimental and far-reaching effects on people’s lives. Why doesn’t epilepsy have the same profile with politicians and health and education service providers as other neurological or long-term conditions? Breaking down these barriers is an important step in ensuring the same standard of services that would be expected for any life-changing condition.