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Epilepsy is defined as a disorder of brain function characterized by recurrent seizures that have a sudden onset. (Oxford Medical Dictionary). A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain, causing a temporary disruption in the normal message passing between brain cells. The types of seizure depends on which area of the brain is affected and to what extent.
It may be idiopathic; not associated with structural damage to the brain, or result from trauma to the head (eg difficult birth, infection or stroke).
Epilepsy affects one in 131 people. Tests such as the electroencephalogram (EEG) are used to help diagnosis of epilepsy. With the lack of a cure, epilepsy is managed with anti-epileptic medication (which is successful and common; about 70 per cent of people with epilepsy could have their seizures completely controlled).
Much research is being conducted into the neurological origins on seizures and the pathways that conduct them, in the hope of finding neurotransmitters or pathways that could hopefully lead to a cure.
Source; Adapted from Epilepsy Action (UK)