For Parents

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain.

A child's brain contains billions of nerve cells. They communicate with each other through tiny electrical charges that fire on and off in random fashion. When some or all of these cells suddenly begin to fire together, a wave of electrical energy sweeps through the brain, causing a seizure.

Seizures interfere with the brain's normal functions. They can cause a child to have sudden changes in consciousness, movement, or sensation.

Some people use the term "seizure disorder" instead of "epilepsy" to describe this condition. In fact, both words mean the same thing -- an underlying tendency to experience seizures.

Having a single seizure does not mean a child has epilepsy -- epilepsy is the name for seizures that happen more than once without a known treatable cause such as fever or low blood sugar.