General Information About Epilepsy
How many people have epilepsy or other seizure disorders?
- According to the World Health Organisation1, epilepsy is the world’s most common serious brain disorder.
- Around the world an estimated 50 million people have epilepsy at any given time and 100 million will develop the condition during their life2.
- Approximately 3% of Australians will experience the condition at some point in their lives. Up to 5% will experience a one-off or provoked seizure during their lifetime.
- The incidence of seizure disorders including epilepsy is highest in children and the elderly3. As our population ages, more people in Australia will live with the impact of seizures.
What is epilepsy and how is it different to other seizure disorders?
- Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. It can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender, level of intelligence, culture or background.
- Some seizures are provoked by easily identified causes such as a sudden high fever, concussion or fainting.
- On the other hand, epilepsy is characterised by spontaneous recurrent seizures.
- All seizures are caused by a disruption to the normal electrochemical activity of the brain and can last from a few seconds to many minutes.
Impact of seizures
- It is commonly thought that epilepsy always involves convulsions. However there are many different types of seizures which present in many different ways.
- Seizures can range from altered awareness, perception, sensation, and behaviour or body movements to full loss of consciousness with convulsions. They can be mistaken for anything from intoxication to daydreaming.
1World Health Organisation, http://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/epilepsy/en/
2Based upon a combination of WHO fifures and Population figures obtained from ABS (3101.0)
3WHO, ILE, ILEA Global Campaign against Epilepsy, 2003; WHO Fact Sheet No. 165,2001