What are Seizures?

Seizure–Provoking Factors
Are the brothers and sisters of children with epilepsy more likely to develop it?
Their risk is slightly higher than usual, not because they will “Catch” it (that can’t happen) but because there may be a genetic tendency in the family that makes seizures and epilepsy more likely. Even so, most of them will not develop epilepsy. Epilepsy is more likely to occur in a brother or sister if the child with epilepsy has primary generalized seizures. Depending on the type of epilepsy and the number of family members who are affected, only about 4% to 10% of the other children in the family will have epilepsy.

If I have epilepsy, will my children also have it?
Will I have to take seizure medicines for the rest of my life? I’ve been taking seizure medicine but I’m still having seizures. Will I always have them? The overall life expectancy of people who have epilepsy is the same as for anybody else if they are otherwise pretty healthy. Some people whose epilepsy is caused by things like a stroke or a brain tumor may die sooner from those conditions, of course.

A long–lasting convulsive seizure (called “Tonic–clonic status epilepticus”) is a medical emergency. If not stopped within about 30 minutes, it may cause permanent injury or death. In addition, people with epilepsy can also die from inhaling vomit during or just after a seizure. This can be prevented if someone will turn the person onto one side when the seizure begins and ensures that the vomit completely comes out of the mouth. In general, seizures are hardly ever fatal, even if the person loses consciousness.

People who are not seizure–free need to be careful about possible accidents during a seizure. Death from drowning is more common among people with epilepsy. It can even occur in a tub with only a few inches of water, so people who have seizures probably should stick to showers instead of baths. If you have epilepsy, your doctor–and the agency in your state or province responsible for licensing drivers–will help you decide whether it is safe and legal for you to drive. You should also be careful on train or subway platforms and when walking near busy streets. However,with some planning, you should be able to lead a life that is both active and safe.