Messaging systems in the brain control every function in the human body. Epilepsy develops due to a disruption in this system, which may result from brain dysfunction.
In many cases, healthcare professionals will not know the exact cause. Some people inherit genetic factors that make epilepsy more likely to occur. Other factors that may increase the risk include:
- head trauma, such as from a vehicle accident
- brain conditions, including stroke and tumors
- infectious diseases, such as viral encephalitis
- prenatal injury or brain damage that occurs before birth
- developmental conditions, including autism and neurofibromatosis
According to the CDC, epilepsy is most likely to develop in children under 2 years and adults over 65 years.
Is epilepsy common?
In 2015, the CDC stated that epilepsy affected around 1.2% of the United States population. That amounts to approximately 3.4 million people, including 3 million adults and 470,000 children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that epilepsy affects approximately 50 million people worldwide.