Quick Facts

There are approximately 50 million people around the world living with epilepsy.

It’s estimated that 1 in 100 people have epilepsy

There are more than 300,000 Canadians living with epilepsy.

There are approximately 2.2 million Americans living with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is NOT contagious. Epilepsy is NOT a disease. Epilepsy is NOT a psychological disorder.

There is currently no “cure” for epilepsy. However, for 10-15% of people with epilepsy, the surgical removal of the seizure focus – the part of brain where the person’s seizures start – can eliminate all seizure activity. For more than half of people with epilepsy, medication will control their seizures. Additionally, some children will outgrow their epilepsy and some adults may have a spontaneous remission.

Not everyone can identify specific events or circumstances that affect seizures, but some are able to recognize definite seizure triggers. Some common triggers include:

  • Forgetting to take prescribed seizure medication
  • Lack of sleep
  • Missing meals
  • Stress, excitement, emotional upset
  • Menstrual cycle / hormonal changes
  • Illness or fever
  • Low seizure medication levels
  • Medications other than prescribed seizure medication
  • Flickering lights of computers, television, videos, etc., and sometimes even bright sunlight
  • Street drugs

First-Aid for Seizures is Simple

First aid chart

*First Aid Chart courtesy of Edmonton Epilepsy Association

Famous People with Epilepsy

Throughout history, many famous people are known or are suspected of having had epilepsy. These include:

Julius Caesar
Alexander the Great
Agatha Christie
Socrates
Joan of Arc
Harriet Tubman 
Napoleon Bonaparte
Vincent Van Gogh
Charles Dickens
Richard Burton
Alfred Nobel
Thomas Edison

And more recently:

Actor Margaux Hemingway (1955-1996)
Actor Danny Glover
Singer-songwriter Neil Young
Adam Horovitz of the music group Beastie Boys
Mike Skinner from band The Streets
American Olympian Florence Griffith-Joyner, aka Flo Jo (1959-1998)
American Football guard Alan Faneca (New York Jets)
American Football cornerback Samari Rolle (Baltimore Ravens)
2006 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team goalie Chanda Gunn

For a longer list of famous people affected by epilepsy, visit Wikipedia.