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HealthInfo Canterbury


Epilepsy is a brain disorder that affects around 1% of people. It can affect people of all ages. People with epilepsy have seizures that are caused by brief abnormal electrical activity in their brains.

There are different types of seizures and epilepsy can be mild, severe, or anywhere in between. See the Epilepsy New Zealand page Epilepsy FAQ for more information about epilepsy.

Epilepsy can sometimes be inherited. About half the time we don't know what causes it. But some causes are:

Seizures can usually be stopped with medication. But a small number of patients carry on having seizures despite doctors' best efforts. If you're having seizures, you may not be able to drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other things that could be dangerous for you or others if you lost consciousness. But most people with epilepsy live an active and fulfilling life.

Epilepsy New Zealand provides support, information, education and awareness on epilepsy. It has a local branch that provides services in Canterbury, South Canterbury and the West Coast.

The Epilepsy New Zealand page Epilepsy FAQ describes how to recognise different types of epileptic seizures. The information sheet First aid for tonic clonic seizures has details of what to do and what not to do if you see someone having the most serious type of seizure.

Medications for epilepsy

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2019.

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Page reference: 49144

Review key: HIEPI-29131