5 Epilepsy Myths

Nurse with a patient in the hospital

Epilepsy is a chronic seizure disorder that affects around 3 million people in the United States and can affect people of all ages.

However, many people are not familiar with how epilepsy affects children. As a result, a number of myths have arisen about what it means to have epilepsy.

1. Epilepsy Isn’t the Only Cause of Seizures

Although epilepsy is a seizure disorder, not all seizures are related to it. Epilepsy affects the central nervous system, causing the electrical signals in a child’s brain to misfire. Seizures can also be caused by head injuries, tumors or other physical abnormalities in the brain.

2. Epilepsy Isn’t Contagious

Epilepsy has a number of causes, but none of them are contagious or able to be passed to others through close contact. Sometimes epilepsy can result as a complication in pregnancy or because of a disease like meningitis early in life.

Most cases of epilepsy aren’t caused by any visible defect in the brain and are thought to be genetic.

3. Epilepsy Doesn’t Impact Intelligence

Epilepsy in children doesn’t mean that they are not able to develop at a normal rate intellectually. Though children with epilepsy can fall behind schoolwork due to increased time away, the condition itself does not cause children to be any more or less intelligent than they would be otherwise.

4. Epilepsy Isn’t a Mental Illness

As mentioned, epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electric patterns in the brain. Epilepsy is not itself a mental illness, nor are children with epilepsy more likely to suffer from mental illness. Other than experiencing occasional seizures, kids with epilepsy are just like anyone else.

5. Epilepsy Doesn’t Usually Get Worse

Epilepsy is not a degenerative condition. That is, it doesn’t get worse over time. Often, thanks to treatment and the regular development of a child’s brain into adulthood, epilepsy can become less severe.