Epilepsy is a group of long-term neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. These seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur, and have no immediate underlying cause while seizures that occur due to a specific cause are not deemed to represent epilepsy.
In most cases the cause is unknown, although some people develop epilepsy as the result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, and drug and alcohol misuse, among others. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal cortical nerve cell activity in the brain. The diagnosis typically involves ruling out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms (such as syncope) as well as figuring out whether any immediate causes are present. Epilepsy can often be confirmed with an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Seizures are controllable with medication in about 70% of cases. In those whose seizures do not respond to medication, surgery, neurostimulation or dietary changes may be considered. Not all cases of epilepsy are lifelong, and a substantial number of people improve to the point that medication is no longer needed.
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- Epilepsy at Wikipedia. Retrieved September 30, 2014.