Epilepsy is a common neurological (brain) disorder. It affects people of all age, race, social status and sex. Studies estimate that about 5% of people in the world may have at least one seizure in their life.
Prognosis of epilepsy
According to studies, seizures in up to 70% of newly diagnosed children and adults with epilepsy can be successfully controlled for several years with anti-epileptic drugs. If the person remains seizure-free for about 2-5 years into treatment, medications can be slowly withdrawn in about 70% of children and 60% of adults without relapses (i.e. without further seizures).
About 30% of people with epilepsy may not respond to treatment with medications. They may need other treatments such as surgery, ketogenic diet or vagus nerve stimulation to control the seizures. Surgery is recommended as an option only after trying two or three different medications for a period of time without success.
Experts say that prognosis is better when treatment is started early. Delay in starting treatment makes it more difficult to control the seizures.
Prognosis is poorer in people, who have seizures due to an underlying brain disease. Partial seizures with a brain disease are more difficult to control than generalised seizures. Prognosis is better for people with generalised seizures as compared with partial seizures.
Seizures due to some other cause (such as drugs, alcohol, low blood glucose, infection) and not epilepsy may have a self-limiting course. Many people, however, can develop epilepsy after a seizure due to brain infection, head injury etc.
Epilepsy increases the risk of death. Death in epilepsy may be caused due to the underlying brain disease such as a tumour or infection, seizures in unsafe circumstances, thereby leading to drowning, burns or head injury or status epilepticus.
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