What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a tendency to have seizures (sometimes called fits). A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. This causes a temporary disruption to the way that messages are passed between brain cells, so the brain’s messages briefly pause or become mixed up. There are many different kinds of epilepsy and about 40 different seizure types.

Epilepsy can affect anyone, at any age. It can have an identifiable cause such as a blow to the head, meningitis or a brain tumour, but for the majority of people there is no known cause. In some cases, the tendency to have seizures runs in families, but having a parent with epilepsy does not necessarily mean a child will have the condition. In the UK, about 47,000 children of school age have epilepsy: on average about one in every 214 children.

The epilepsy section of ‘Medical Conditions at School: A Policy Resource Pack‘ provides information to school staff on epilepsy, including its symptoms, medication and treatments, triggers and emergency procedures.

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