Anyone can have a one-off seizure, but this doesn’t always mean they have epilepsy. To diagnose epilepsy, doctors will want to know what happens when you have a seizure.

    Fast facts

    1. 1
      There is no single test for diagnosing epilepsy
    2. 2
      Tests used to help diagnose epilepsy include: blood tests, EEGs and MRI scans. Sometimes tests are done to rule out other conditions, such as a ECG to rule out heart problems
    3. 3
      If you have a normal EEG or MRI scan you may still have epilepsy
    4. 4
      Epilepsy can be difficult to diagnose. It might take some time for a diagnosis to be confirmed
    5. 5
      There are lots of types of epilepsy and seizures
    6. 6
      Some types of epilepsy are part of a syndrome (there’s more about epilepsy syndromes below)
    7. 7
      For most people there is no explanation for why they get epilepsy

    The number of people aged 25 and under with epilepsy, is approximately 1 in 177

    Some facts about epilepsy...

    • How many people in the UK have epilepsy?

      More than 600,000 people in the UK have epilepsy

    • Who gets epilepsy?

      Anyone can be diagnosed with epilepsy, at any age

    • What is epilepsy?

      Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain.

      Having epilepsy is the tendency to have epileptic seizures.

    What are seizures?

    Epileptic seizures are a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain, creating a temporary disruption of the normal messages in the brain. A seizure can cause changes in somebody’s movements, awareness, behaviour, emotions or senses or all of the above.

    What causes epilepsy?

    In most cases, it’s not clear why epilepsy happens. Sometimes a cause is found, it might be a head injury, a brain infection like meningitis and some types of epilepsy are linked to our genes. Often the cause is not known.


    Top tips


    Young woman with electrodes stuck to her head

    Epilepsy syndromes

    Some types of epilepsy are part of a syndrome. A syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that, added together, suggest a particular condition.

    Examples of the signs and symptoms are things like:

    There are lots of different epilepsy syndromes. Your epilepsy doctor should tell you if you have a syndrome. Some syndromes that are more common in young people include:

    For more info visit the Epilepsy Action website page about epilepsy syndromes.

    Epilepsy syndromes


    Find out how being diagnosed with epilepsy felt for these people

    Stories by you

    These young people have shared their experiences and memories of getting diagnosed with epilepsy.

    Group of friends taking a selfie

    Do something

    Do you know anyone else with epilepsy? If not try looking for groups local to you or search for online forums where you could talk to others with epilepsy.

    There some suggestions for connecting with others who have epilepsy on the connect with other young people page



    More info

    The Epilepsy Action website has lots more about epilepsy and how it’s diagnosed

    What is epilepsy?

    More about the tests that are used to help with making a diagnosis

    Diagnosing epilepsy

    When you are first diagnosed with epilepsy you are likely to have lots of questions

    Questions to ask
    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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