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What is Epilepsy? Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases, affecting 1-2% of the global population. It is characterized by recurrent and unprovoked seizures.
Epilepsy can be diagnosed in individuals who have had two or more unprovoked seizures in the past 24 hours, have a 60% chance of having a second unprovoked seizure in the next 10 years, or have an epilepsy syndrome.
A seizure is an inappropriate and uncontrolled electrical activity in one or more parts of the brain’s cortex that may manifest as abrupt changes in behavior, movement, or other neurological function. Seizures may have other causes than epilepsy, such as infection, electrolyte imbalance, medications, and acute traumatic injury to the brain. The possibility of secondary causes must be assessed in patients after an initial seizure.
What Causes Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can be the result of genetic predisposition or acquired from conditions that increase the susceptibility of neurons to excitation, such as previous traumatic injury or strokes. Disordered functioning of these vulnerable neurons creates an imbalance through increased excitatory signals and decreased inhibitory signals leading to repetitive electrical activity.
The classification of epilepsy is multilevel, determined first by the seizure type, then the epilepsy type, and finally epilepsy syndrome.
Types of epilepsy include:
- Generalized epilepsy
- Focal epilepsy
- Combined generalized and focal epilepsy
- Unknown epilepsy
Source: Falco-Walter, J. (2020). Epilepsy—Definition, Classification, Pathophysiology, and Epidemiology. Seminars in Neurology, 40(06), 617–623. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0040-1718719