Experts Talk

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Answer: It’s a common brain (neurological) disease characterized by recurrent seizures, which are brief disruptions in normal brain activity that interferes with brain function. Seizures can manifest as full-body convulsions, but there are many kinds – with some types, you might not even notice a seizure at all. Currently, there is no cure, and for many it is lifelong.
  • Answer: Epilepsy is diagnosed by a physician or nurse practitioner. The health care professional may ask questions about the seizure such as what happened before, during, and after it. The person will also have an electroencephalogram (EEG) test to measure the electrical activity in the brain. Additional imaging tests such as MRIs and/or CT/CAT scans might be done as well. Then, based on the information gathered, a diagnosis of epilepsy might be made.
  • Answer: Medication is the most common and effective way to treat epilepsy; however, there are also non-drug treatments such as surgery, ketogenic diets, and nerve stimulation. Many people utilize complementary medicine in their care as well. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and everyone responds differently, so a person with epilepsy should discuss their care with their physician before making any active decisions.
  • Answer: Epilepsy is not rare – in fact, about 1 in every 100 Canadians has epilepsy and about 50 million people worldwide. It can affect anyone of any age, race, and sex. Many famous people have had (or are suspected to have had) epilepsy, including Pope Pius IX, Prince John, Neil Young, Susan Boyle, Harriet Tubman, and many others! However, it should be noted that epilepsy is an umbrella term for a large variety of different kinds of seizure disorders. While epilepsy in general is common, the individual diseases that fall under that umbrella are typically rare in respect to the overall population.