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What is the General Prognosis of Epilepsy?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2018
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The general prognosis of epilepsy is positive, as it is typically not life-threatening for most individuals. There are rare complications which may occur, but these are not an issue for the vast majority of epilepsy sufferers. Many patients may eventually be able to discontinue use of medications without risk for recurrent seizures, while others can keep seizures under control with continued use of prescription drugs. Epileptic children generally have the greatest chance of a full recovery with time.

Epilepsy is not normally a life-threatening condition, and most patients are able to keep symptoms under control with the use of medication. The biggest danger to the majority of epilepsy sufferers is the risk of injury while driving, swimming, or walking. If a seizure were to occur while participating in these activities, an automobile accident, serious fall, or drowning could occur. Aside from these risks, the general prognosis of epilepsy is very good in terms of life expectancy and management of the condition.

Although most women with epilepsy can become pregnant and deliver a healthy baby, there are some risks associated with the condition for both mother and child. Many anti-seizure medications carry a high risk of birth defects, so type of prescription and dosage may have to be adjusted to thwart these risks. Since pregnancy can affect almost every system of the body, an increase in seizures may also exist, which can greatly decrease the mother’s quality of life until they are controlled.

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The general prognosis of epilepsy may also depend on several factors. A patient’s overall health, access to health care, and family support may affect the ability of sufferers to function normally. Many have to quit work, at least temporarily, and some have to give up driving and other activities if occasional seizures occur even with medication.

Even untreated, the general prognosis of epilepsy is still good. That said, proper medical care is important because very rarely, serious issues can arise. A condition known as Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy kills roughly one in every 1,000 sufferers of the condition. It is most common in those who do not receive any medical care, or those who do not properly control the condition.

Very rarely, seizures may last several minutes at a time or come extremely quickly, leading to serious complications. If patients lose consciousness and fail to wake up between or after seizures, permanent brain damage and sometimes even death may occur. This is extremely rare and does not generally occur when the condition is properly treated.

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