Is Epilepsy Curable or Not?

  • Medical Author: J Stephen Huff, MD
  • Medical Editor: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM

Ask a Doctor

A co-worker of mine collapsed in a seizure in the office the other day, and shortly after, we found out he was diagnosed with epilepsy. I don’t know him very well, but we here at the warehouse are all concerned. He hasn’t returned to work this week. Is epilepsy serious? Is epilepsy curable or not?

Doctor’s Response

It's hard to say, except that any seizure disorder is serious. Epilepsy isn't just one disease, and the prognosis depends on the cause. Epilepsy simply describes the condition of recurrent seizures. The outcome of the seizure disorder is strongly related to the cause of the seizures, if a cause is discovered.

  • For people with symptomatic epilepsy-that is, seizures that occur because other medical conditions exist -prognosis will depend on the other medical condition.
    • Seizures resulting from low blood sugars, for example, could be prevented by careful management and avoidance of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
    • Seizures related to progressive medical conditions such as some brain tumors or metabolic conditions may be difficult to control and may have a poor outcome.

Healthy people may have seizures under certain circumstances. If the seizures have a known cause, the condition is referred to as secondary or symptomatic epilepsy. Some of the more common causes include the following:

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"Overview of the management of epilepsy in adults"