Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur, and have no immediate underlying cause while seizures that occur due to a specific cause are not deemed to represent epilepsy.
The cause of most cases of epilepsy is unknown, although some people develop epilepsy as the result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, and drug and alcohol misuse. Genetic mutations are linked to a small proportion of the disease. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal cortical nerve cell activity in the brain. The diagnosis typically involves ruling out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms such as fainting. Additionally, making the diagnosis involves determining if any other cause of seizures is present such as alcohol withdrawal or electrolyte problems. This may be done by imaging the brain and performing blood tests. Epilepsy can often be confirmed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) but a normal test does not rule out the condition.