Epilepsy Statistics - Featured Image

30 Enlightening Epilepsy Statistics & Facts for 2019

by Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD

Epilepsy is a major health disorder that has affected millions of people across the globe. Today’s epilepsy statistics show that epilepsy is one of the fastest-growing health disorders in our world. Affecting over 1.2% of the US population, it’s easy to see the medical condition’s huge prevalence.

The brain controls nerve cell activity. Epilepsy is a disorder that disturbs that activity, and this disturbance causes seizures. During a seizure, a person experiences several sensations and symptoms, which include abnormal behaviors and loss of consciousness.

Although the facts about epilepsy show there are several causes and types of epilepsy, the condition still isn’t completely understood by medical experts. However, if you’re hoping to get a good grasp of the details concerning how the disorder works and its impact on the world, this article covers ground on many of the world’s verified statistics on the topic.

10 Vital Epilepsy Facts and Statistics

Although there’s a multitude of information on epilepsy out there, we want to bring to your notice a list of the most vital. Here we go:

  • In 1997, a Japanese cartoon triggered seizures in hundreds of children.
  • 80% of those with active epilepsy reside in low- and middle-income countries. 
  • Generalized seizures account for more than 30% of all epileptic seizures. 
  • California has the greatest number of cases of this disorder in the US.
  • The medical expenditures for epilepsy are estimated at $15.5 billion. 
  • Over 3 million adult Americans had epilepsy in 2015.
  • Epilepsy is more common in Latin America. 
  • A seizure can last up to 30 minutes or longer before leaving permanent brain damage. 
  • People with epilepsy have a greater risk of premature death.
  • Around 25% of epilepsy cases are preventable. 
  • 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point.

General Epilepsy Statistics and Facts

Epilepsy Statistics - General

1. For an epilepsy diagnosis, at least two seizures must occur more than 24 hours apart.

(Aesnet) 

For people suffering from active epilepsy, there’s a very high chance of experiencing at least two seizures with a 24-hour gap between occurrences. This can be controlled effectively by studying the patient’s symptoms and providing the right level of neurological treatment.

2. According to the World Health Organization’s epilepsy statistics, only 25% of epilepsy cases are preventable.

(WHO) 

Of course, epilepsy is a dangerous disorder. This doesn’t mean the disease can’t be controlled or even prevented. Knowing the most useful preventive measures could greatly reduce how common the disorder has become.

3. A seizure can last up to 30 minutes or longer before risking permanent brain damage.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Seizures come in various types and a wide range of degrees. When a seizure lasts for longer than normal, it’s usually referred to as status epilepticus. If it lasts for 30 minutes or longer, it can lead to long-term brain damage. On top of that, epilepsy can cause death, statistics show. 

4. Epilepsy is more common in Latin America.

(NCBI) 

Regions of Latin America and some African countries have the highest prevalence rate of epilepsy today. Medical experts have provided means of treatment across the world, and by improving awareness, the public has taken great leaps ahead in fighting the health disorder. 

Statistics on Epilepsy’s Prevalence

Epilepsy Statistics - Prevalence

5. When it comes to how many people have epilepsy in the US, the total includes over 3 million adults.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

Over 3 million adults in the US had epilepsy in 2015. With the addition of children, the number continues to grow, reaching up to 3.4 million people. 

6. People with epilepsy have a higher risk of premature death than those without.

(WHO) 

Over time, medical experts have studied the ins and outs of epilepsy. From the facts on epilepsy laid out by the World Health Organization, the risk of premature death in people with active epilepsy is three times greater than it is among the general population. Active epilepsy means it’s been diagnosed, and the patient in question is undergoing treatment for it.

7. Within the period of 2010 to 2015, the number of people diagnosed with epilepsy grew from 2.3 million to 3 million in the US. 

(CDC) 

Is epilepsy becoming more common? It only took five years for the number of diagnosed epilepsy cases to see an increase of over 23%. Medical experts have studied this and concluded that the health disorder will continue to grow. 

8. 1 in 10 people will have an unprovoked seizure in their lifetime.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

Medical researchers have studied seizures and claim that about 10% of the population will experience an unprovoked seizure. A study that focused on weeding out the epilepsy facts and myths showed that epilepsy is often what causes seizures. From the research put forward by leading medical bodies, it’s been determined that epilepsy is one of the known major causes of seizures. Other causes include a high fever brought about by an infection such as meningitis. 

9. Epilepsy can be caused by low oxygen during birth, as well as head and brain injuries. 

(WebMD) 

What are the main causes of epilepsy? Investigating what causes epilepsy, it’s been found that something as common as an injury to the head can play a big part. 

10. The annual cost of epilepsy-based medical expenditures is estimated at $15.5 billion.

(UnityPoint) 

There are many health disorders that cost the medical industry impressively high sums, and epilepsy is definitely one of them. 

Demographic Statistics on Epilepsy

Epilepsy Statistics - Demographic

11. Epilepsy affects people of all ages.

(CDC) 

Unlike many other health disorders, epilepsy has been known to affect people in all age groups. In the United States, over 470,000 children experience epilepsy. From the latest childhood epilepsy prevalence stats, reports have shown that about 0.6% of children within the range of 0–17 years old have active epilepsy. 

12. 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

From top reports on the prevalence of the disorder, an estimate of 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point. The etiological factors may include other active health conditions, race, and even age.

13. What gender is most affected by Epilepsy? Epilepsy syndromes are more commonly found in males than in females. 

(Emedicine) 

This issue has often been debated by medical experts. Today, top studies show that although men and women have highly similar risks of having an epileptic seizure, men still retain a higher risk of developing the syndrome. However, epilepsy statistics from 2018 showed that syndromes of photosensitive epilepsy are more common in females.

14. 56% of adults with epilepsy experience seizures even after undergoing treatment.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

Seizures are highly common epilepsy symptoms. In fact, only 44% of those who have epilepsy and take medication don’t have a seizure, according to the general facts about seizures. 

15. 50%–60% of children experiencing seizures will be free from them in adulthood.

(Healthline) 

A study carried out by the epilepsy foundation known as the Child Neurology Foundation, showed that about 50%–60% of kids with seizures will outgrow them. Put simply, these child epilepsy statistics indicate that they won’t experience seizures later on in their lives.

16. 70% of the people who have epilepsy would no longer have seizures if their condition was diagnosed and treated properly.

(WHO) 

According to the WHO, estimates show that over two-thirds of those diagnosed with epilepsy could live a life with no fear of having a seizure. The only challenge is that they need proper medical attention to achieve the right diagnosis and receive the best treatment. 

Epilepsy Statistics Worldwide

Epilepsy Statistics - Worldwide

17. About 50 million people across the world have epilepsy.

(WHO)

The WHO is known for producing precise and accurate statistics concerning the most common health disorders in the world. From epilepsy stats by state, country, and continent, an estimate of 50 million people around the globe suffer from this condition. Taking things one step further, this means the percentage of the population with epilepsy on a global scale is 0.65%.

18. In 2010, epilepsy ranked second in the WHO’s Global Burden of Disease study.

(NCBI) 

The world has innumerable health disorders affecting its inhabitants. When looking at the top neurological and metabolic disorders, the list is usually a broad one. From data provided by the WHO in this study, epilepsy made it to the second spot in their list. This goes a long way in showing how common the disorder is across the globe. 

Interesting Epilepsy Facts 

Epilepsy Statistics - Facts 

19. There are three major types of seizures.

(Healthline) 

Seizures are the most common symptoms of epilepsy. Thanks to the medical research, it’s been discovered that seizures come in three main types: a focal seizure, which is sometimes called focal epilepsy, generalized seizures, and unknown seizures. 

20. 90% of adults diagnosed with active epilepsy take seizure medication, according to recent epilepsy statistics.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

Due to the advancements in epilepsy treatment thanks to several medical bodies, a wide range of medications have been produced. Today, epilepsy is a common disorder in our world, and having enough treatment methods is a good way to improve people’s lives, even save them. Not to mention, the epilepsy statistics worldwide from 2017 showed that medical experts have produced various forms of anti-seizure medication. They’ve been developed alongside a collection of other treatment forms to ensure that other effects of the health disorder are also managed.

21. California has the highest number of epilepsy disorder cases in the US. 

(CDC) 

The CDC has epilepsy prevalence data showing that this populous state has the most cases of the disorder. The CDC estimates that it has a whopping 367,900 recorded cases in adults. The state with the lowest number of cases is Wyoming with about 5,100. 

22. Focal seizures, which last for a minute or two, are responsible for about 60% of all epileptic seizures. 

(Healthline) 

Focal seizures are known to last for a minute or two and tend to be milder by nature. However, many people don’t realize that they account for the clear majority of epileptic seizures. 

23. The epilepsy facts also show that generalized seizures account for 30% of all epileptic seizures.

(Healthline) 

Generalized seizures usually develop from focal seizures. Today, they are known to include tonic seizures, partial seizures, grand mal seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, petit mal seizures, and atonic seizures. The generalized variation is responsible for more than 30% of all epilepsy-related seizures, according to the seizure facts

24. 60%–70% of the time, epilepsy’s causes are unknown.

(Aesnet) 

There are many causes of the disorder in the world. But even today, over 60% of these cases don’t have a clear cause known to medical experts. 

25. Epilepsy isn’t contagious.

(UnityPoint) 

The idea that epilepsy might be contagious is a very common myth, one that many people in the world have believed to be true. However, intractable epilepsy statistics show that although epilepsy is yet to be cured, it can’t be contracted from someone who had the disorder. 

26. Only 2 out of 3 people with a diagnosis of active epilepsy see a neurologist.

(Epilepsy Foundation) 

Although there are several ways to treat the disorder, many people still find it useful to visit a neurological expert. It was found that only two-thirds of those with the disorder see a neurologist concerning their ailment. 

27. Which cartoon sent hundreds of children to the hospital from seizures? In 1997, Japan’s Pokemon triggered seizures in many of the children watching it.

(CNN) 

In 1997, over six hundred kids experienced seizures after watching a Pokemon episode. The episode featured characters fighting each other inside a computer. Not long after hundreds of epileptic kids watched it, they had to deal with seizures and other related symptoms, sending them to the hospital for prompt treatment, according to some of the more alarming epilepsy statistics worldwide.

28. People can’t swallow their tongues while having a seizure.

(UnityPoint)

Many might believe that an epileptic seizure can cause a person to swallow their tongue. This is not true. In fact, attempting to put something in their mouth while they’re having a seizure can lead to injuries. Nevertheless, according to the top seizure statistics, there are several techniques covering what to do if someone has a seizure. One of the most important includes rolling the person having a seizure onto their side so that they can breathe properly. 

29. Up to 75% of people with active epilepsy don’t receive treatment.

(WHO) 

According to the World Health Organization, there are countries where 75% of the people with active epilepsy don’t get treatment. This fact alone has been one of the major causes of fatalities among many epileptic people. Although epilepsy doesn’t have a cure, most epilepsy statistics and research state that there are several ways to control and treat the health disorder.

30. Many famous people had epilepsy.

(Wikipedia)

There are a good number of famous people who have or had epilepsy during their lives. We picked out three famous people whose lives represent a wide range of backgrounds. Check out our brief recaps among the following interesting and unique epilepsy facts:

  • Michael IV the Paphlagonian

Michael IV was a Byzantine emperor who lived from 1010 to 1041. He had frequent tonic-clonic seizures since he was a child. However, interpreters at the time claimed the seizures he had were demonic possessions as punishments for his sins.

  • Grover Cleveland Alexander

Grover Cleveland Alexander, 1887 to 1950, was a major league baseball pitcher who tried to hide his disorder with alcohol. At the time, doing so was considered more socially acceptable.

  • Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne was born in 1982. The famous American rapper revealed his epileptic condition in March 2013. He has suffered from the disorder since childhood, though he mentioned that he rarely remembers his seizures.

Conclusion

The above interesting facts about epilepsy are a major guide to helping you understand this disorder. We’ve covered data on epilepsy’s prevalence and demographics and hopefully cleared up some of the misinformation out there.

Epilepsy is a very dangerous health disorder that has affected millions of people for many centuries. Enlightening the world about the illness is the best way to facilitate the fight against it. The above epilepsy statistics are vital and reliable resources you can trust to give you better insight into the health disorder. 

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