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Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of awareness. It is diagnosed when two or more unprovoked seizures have occurred. Unprovoked means that the seizures occur when an acute brain disturbance cannot be identified as the cause of seizure, after neurological evaluation.
Normal brain function is made possible by millions of tiny electrical charges passing between nerve cells in the brain and to all parts of the body. When someone has epilepsy, this normal pattern may be interrupted by irregular bursts of electrical energy that are much more intense than usual. They may affect a person's awareness, bodily movements, or sensations for a short time.
Specifically, epilepsy will be considered present if:
- At least two unprovoked seizures occur more than 24 hours apart
- One unprovoked seizure occurs but there is a probability of further seizures (approximately 75% or more) based on interictal EEG and epilepsy syndrome
- At least two seizures occur in a setting of reflex epilepsy
Unfortunately, there is no cure for epilepsy. The goal for epilepsy patients is to reduce the rate of seizures and side effects from prescribed medication. It is common to hear epilepsy treatments options referred to as therapies.
While seizure medication is the most common form of treatment, there are other ways to control seizures. An epilepsy specialist can assist you in exploring various treatment options such as: surgery, devices, dietary changes, or participating in a clinical trial.