While around one in 26 Americans will develop a form of epilepsy during their lives, this disorder remains poorly understood by much of the public. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is treatable most of the time, but is a chronic problem for some people.

The Mayo Clinic’s website explains that seizures occur when nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted. If a person experiences more than one unprovoked seizure, he or she may become diagnosed with epilepsy. A seizure can range from a brief blank stare to uncontrolled jerking of the limbs and loss of consciousness.

When a person experiences chronic seizures, he or she tends to have the same kind of seizures each time. If past seizures have tended to be mild, it is likely that future seizures will be too. But even mild seizures can be disabling. The possibility of even a brief seizure can prevent people with epilepsy from driving a car or performing certain job-related activities.

Epilepsy is a mysterious condition, and about half the time doctors cannot find why a particular patient has developed it. Possible causes of epilepsy include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain trauma
  • Stroke or brain tumors
  • Developmental disorders, such as autism
  • Prenatal brain damage

Secondary complications during a seizure can include falls, drowning, auto accidents, issues during pregnancy and emotional health difficulties.

Many people are able to control their seizures with medication or surgery, so that their career is not affected. Others may need to stop working, at least temporarily, while working with doctors to figure out a course of treatment.