Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that affects people of all ages in every country in the world. It is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting an estimated 50 million people worldwide1.
Epilepsy is characterised by abnormal discharges of neuronal activity, which causes seizures in the body. These seizures can vary in severity, from brief lapses of attention or jerking of muscles, to severe and prolonged convulsions. Epileptic seizures may be limited to one part of the body, or may involve the whole body. Seizures can also vary in frequency from less than one per year, to several per day.
Epilepsy has many possible causes but often the cause is unknown. No two patients with epilepsy will present the exact same symptoms or respond in the same way to treatment, making the condition extremely difficult to control with existing anti-epileptic drugs. The impact of seizures on a patient’s quality of life, and the life of their family, should not be underestimated.
Epilepsy, Fact sheet N°999. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs999/en/index.html [Accessed March 2013]