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Epilepsy is not a single condition but a large group of highly heterogeneous disorders, which in common has an abnormally increased predisposition to seizures (1).

  • it is defined as a neurological condition characterised by recurrent epileptic seizures unprovoked by any immediately identifiable cause (2)
  • the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) defines epilepsy as a “a disorder of the brain characterised by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological and social consequences of this condition”. The definition of epilepsy requires the occurrence of at least one epileptic seizure (1).

Epilepsy should be considered as a symptom caused by an underlying neurological disorder and not as a single disease entity (2).

It is a diagnosis which sadly and unnecessarily carries physical, psychosocial and economic implications for the patient. As such, it ought to not be applied without thorough consideration.

Note that there is confusion between the terms epilepsy and seizure, and they are often used interchangeably. The confusion is not helped by the term status epilepticus, which need not have anything to do with epilepsy. The two are separated here.