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Epilepsy Facts

You can’t swallow your tongue during a seizure.

It’s physically impossible.

You should never force something into the mouth of someone having a seizure.

Not all seizures involve jerking or shaking movements. Some people seem vacant, wander around or are confused during a seizure.

A person with epilepsy is not contagious and cannot give epilepsy to another person.

Don’t restrain someone having a seizure.

Most seizures end in seconds or a few minutes on their own.

People with epilepsy can handle jobs with responsibility and stress. People with seizure disorders are found in all walks of life.

For 2 in 3 people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. This type of epilepsy is called cryptogenic or idiopathic.

Injuries can happen during seizures, but many people don't hurt themselves and don't need to go to hospital or see a doctor.

Anyone can develop epilepsy. Seizures start for the first time in people over age 65 almost as often as it does in children.

Even with today’s medication, epilepsy cannot be cured. 

Prolonged seizures have the potential to cause brain injury, making immediate emergency medical assistance imperative.

People can die from epileptic seizures. About 22,000 to 42,000 deaths in the U.S. each year occur from these seizure emergencies.

Source: Mayo Clinic Health System



Did you know that Saint Valentine is the patron saint of people with epilepsy?

Some famous people who have had epilepsy include the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar and the artist Vincent Van Gogh. More recently the actor Danny Glover, singers Prince and Susan Boyle and rugby player Dean Ryan.

Epilepsy Myths

Epilepsy is often misunderstood with different facts and myths surrounding the condition. Let's dispel some of the myths that still exist and bring you important information about seizures, seizure triggers and epilepsy first aid.

MYTH 1: You shake and jerk when you have epilepsy

FACT 1: Not every seizure means a person shakes and jerks, nor is a person always unconscious during a seizure. Shaking and jerking while unconscious are usually associated with tonic clonic seizures. There are a range of seizures which have different side effects and can affect people differently. 

MYTH 2: Flashing lights cause seizures in everyone with epilepsy

FACT 2: Around 1 in 100 people has epilepsy, and of these people, around 3% have photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive epilepsy is more common in children and young people (up to 5%) and is less commonly diagnosed after the age of 20.

MYTH 3: You can restrain someone during a tonic clonic seizure and put your finger in their mouth

FACT 3: During a tonic clonic seizure you should never hold the person down or put anything in their mouth.

It's important to know exactly what to do when someone has a tonic clonic seizure so that you can act quickly. 

MYTH 4: The only side effects of a seizure are tiredness and being confused

FACT 4: Having epilepsy can affect people in different ways. Knowing that a person ‘has epilepsy’ does not tell you very much about what happens for them or how epilepsy affects them. For example, some people may have problems with sleep or memory and for some people epilepsy may affect their mental health. 


"You don’t look like you have epilepsy"

"Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it can’t exist. Don’t judge someone for how they look because you never know what they are going through."


Epilepsy is predominantly an invisible condition.

How is someone with epilepsy supposed to look? Statements like this illustrate a real lack of knowledge and understanding of the condition and its impact. 

Epilepsy is so much more than seizures. 

Seizures are the most visible outward symptom of epilepsy, but they are only one symptom.

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