30+ Epilepsy Statistics on Its Causes, Prevalence & Treatment

Epilepsy Statistics

What can these epilepsy statistics tell you that hasn’t been said before? Plenty. If you’ve been in the know for some time, then you realize the condition varies so much that it’s hard to gather complete information. New cases arise every day, unfortunately, and we can’t always prevent epilepsy from occurring. However, there are also lots of things we can do to make lives easier.

One may have epilepsy without even knowing it. While a grand mal seizure is easily recognizable by violent involuntary movements, a child may undergo a seizure which is characterized by a still moment. Epilepsy symptoms can be hardly recognizable at first. This is very unfortunate as early detection can go miles.

The brain and its functions are still pretty much a mystery to us, and so is epilepsy. However, we’ve tried to debunk some common myths and reveal helpful information. Here are some basic things you should know about epilepsy and how to treat it.

Top 10 Epilepsy Facts and Statistics

  • The general risk of having epilepsy is between 1% and 2%.
  • 50 million people around the world struggle with epilepsy.
  • Antiepileptic drugs (AED) are successful in 60% to 70% of the cases.
  • Epilepsy mortality rates are on the rise in the US.
  • Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved cannabis drug for epilepsy treatment.
  • About 80% of the people with epilepsy come from low and middle-income countries
  • The frequency of epileptic seizures ranges from less than one per year to several seizures per day.
  • Child epilepsy statistics show the highest number of these cases is in California—58,800.
  • Tonic-clonic seizure is the major cause of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy is one of the oldest illnesses.

Surprised? We told you we’re going to present you with interesting stats about epilepsy. Read on, get educated, and possibly healthier! If you’re lucky enough not to suffer from it, this article can teach you how to give a helping hand and you’ll get to know what living with epilepsy is like.

Must-Know Epilepsy Facts and Stats

1. Anyone can have epilepsy.

(Mayo Clinic)

It can occur in anyone, at any time. Don’t be fooled that it only appears for the first time in childhood. True, it is most common in children, but also in old people.

2. Blank staring into space for a few seconds can be defined as an epileptic seizure.


How long can a seizure last? From seconds to a few minutes. An epileptic seizure can take many forms, from rapid blinking to twitching, making jerky movements, emptying bowels and passing out. All of these are the results of simple excessive electrical signals in the brain.

3. About 25% of people with autism also have epilepsy.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Besides being a regular in autism spectrum statistics, epilepsy is very much present with other disabilities: cerebral paralysis (13%), intellectual disability (25.5%), and Down syndrome (13.6%). If a person is both intellectually challenged and has cerebral palsy, they have a 40% chance of having epileptic seizures.

4. There are 60 different types of epilepsy.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

Along with that, there are 30 separate types of epileptic seizures that needn’t be obvious or violent.

5. Epilepsy is one of the oldest illnesses.


At least if we consider the earliest recorded diseases. Written records about it date back to 4000 B.C. Unfortunately, it has also been misunderstood for centuries and even today, this prejudice affects people’s lives.

6. What causes epilepsy is not known in 60% of the cases.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

In the other 40%, the brain damage can be caused by a stroke, poisoning (alcohol or drug abuse), brain injury or tumor, Alzheimer’s, brain infection, prenatal trauma, problems during birth, etc.

7. A person will not swallow their tongue during a seizure.

(Epilepsy Society)

Swallowing a tongue during a seizure is just another myth that should be debunked. Nothing is to be put inside the person’s mouth. It is also not possible to stop the seizure, but we should allow it to finish on its own while taking some precaution measures (removing sharp objects, putting a pillow below one’s head, etc).

8. The frequency of epileptic seizures ranges from less than one per year to several seizures per day.


Having an epileptic seizure does not immediately mean a person is diagnosed with epilepsy. For it to be set as a diagnosis, a person has to endure two or more unprovoked seizures.

Epilepsy Statistics Worldwide

9. 50 million people around the world struggle with epilepsy.


About 5 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy annually. In poor countries, the figure can be as high as 139 per 100,000. In comparison, the average rate is 49 per 100,000.

10. The general risk of having epilepsy is between 1% and 2%.

(Science Daily)

If a parent or a sibling has epilepsy, the risk of developing the disorder increases to about 4% to 8%. The real reason is not known, but genetic mutations seem to be the answer.

11. What is the life expectancy of a person with epilepsy? People with epilepsy have three times higher chances of premature death.


This statistic is usually limited to countries with poor healthcare, i.e., low- and middle-income countries. Some consequences of epilepsy are very much preventable, hence the higher survival chances. Admittedly, certain risk factors hold true everywhere. Epileptic seizures can be followed by physical issues such as bruises, cuts, and fractures due to falling. Anxiety and depression are quite common, too.

12. By law, epilepsy was a valuable argument for a marriage annulment in the UK and Ireland until 1971.


Real-life examples always make the most interesting facts about epilepsy. The US is not much better either, as people with seizures could be legally denied entrance into restaurants, theatres, and similar public facilities.

13. Epilepsy rates increase with age. The highest rates are in people older than 80.

(The Lancet)

When it comes to the young ones, childhood epilepsy is most common in kids who are between 5 and 9 years old.

14. About 80% of the people with epilepsy come from low and middle-income countries. 


Where is epilepsy more common in the world? In places with subpar healthcare. This is extremely shocking and logical at the same time. If treated properly, epilepsy symptoms can be diminished in 70% of the cases. This perfectly explains the high percentage in these countries.

Epilepsy Statistics in the US

15. 1 in 26 Americans will develop some form of epilepsy during their lives.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

That makes 4% of the population. 10% of Americans will probably have at least one seizure during their lifetime, i.e. a short disconnection in the brain causing temporary changes in movement or behavior.

16. Epilepsy death statistics show that tonic-clonic seizure is the major cause of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).


The higher the seizure frequency, the higher the mortality rates. Young children are especially at risk. 1 in 4,500 children are struck with SUDEP every year. The adults’ rate is 1 in 1,000 per annum.

17. 1.1% of adult Americans suffer from epilepsy.


90% of them are taking medications regularly to prevent seizures. Southern states have a greater prevalence of epilepsy cases according to the most recent official epilepsy statistics—over a million. Other regions have almost half as much.

18. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the USA.

(Epilepsy Foundation)

It’s in the fourth place, right after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s (respectively). As a matter of fact, the total number of Americans suffering from epilepsy is higher than the number of all people struggling with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

19. About 3.4 million American adults and children deal with epilepsy.


How many people have epilepsy in the US? 3 million adults and 470,000 children. Generally, men seem to have higher epilepsy rates than women.

20. Epilepsy mortality rates are on the rise in the US according to recent stats.


Overall, US epilepsy cases have increased, as well as the number of deaths. There were 1,760 deaths in 2005 whereas the number rose to almost 3,000 in 2014. Up to 50% of epilepsy-related deaths included it as the underlying cause.

21. The highest number of epilepsy cases in children is in California—58,800.


Epilepsy statistics by state report the lowest epilepsy rates are in Wyoming (800). Regarding adults, the situation is the same. Wyoming is again at the bottom with 5,100 epilepsy cases, while California is surely at the top with as much as 367,900.

22. 1.5% of Asian Americans struggle with epilepsy.


Epilepsy demographic statistics show that it is more frequent in Hispanics than the other groups. In addition, active epilepsy is less frequent in African Americans.

New Stats and Facts About Epilepsy Treatment

23. Epilepsy surgery is done on the brain during which a part of the brain is removed or some alterations are made to it.

(Mayo Clinic)

If at least two AEDs are not useful enough, surgery is indicated. It can be very successful if the problem is in one localized area of the brain. There are several types of surgery, which carry the risks of stroke, depression, memory and language problems, visual impairment, or headache.

24. Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved cannabis drug for epilepsy treatment.


Marijuana and epilepsy studies and research are very encouraging, so even the FDA could not ignore the fact that Epidiolex is efficient in treating two rare epilepsy types: Dravet syndrome and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome. The medicine is used for adults and children who are 2 years old or older.

25. Antiepileptic drugs (AED) are successful in 60% to 70% of the cases.


The treatment is stopped in 50% of the people who were seizure-free for 2 or 5 years. The treatment largely depends on the cause and type of epilepsy.

26. THC can trigger epileptic seizures.

(Epilepsy Society)

The reason why CBD oil for epilepsy should not contain THC is that animal studies have shown it can entice seizures. Its effect on a young brain is also doubtful, as it can lower the IQ and impair cognitive skills. There isn’t enough evidence that the entourage effect of CBD and THC is valuable in epilepsy treatment, so parents are advised against using it.

27. CBD can interact with antiepileptic drugs and has to be monitored.

(Epilepsy Resource Center) (ConsumerLab)

It may increase or decrease some of the substances. CBD is said to affect rufinamide, zonisamide, topiramate, clobazam, and eslicarbazepine. Lower doses may be without side effects, but more research on epilepsy and medical marijuana is needed.

28. Synthetic CBD may be better than natural CBD for epilepsy treatment.


Synthetic cannabidiol called 8,9-dihydrocannabidiol (H2CBD) is said to have the same medical effects as herbal CBD. It is considered better regarding the law, as it would be legal everywhere and FDA-approved. In addition, it wouldn’t require land for planting and it would pollute the environment less.

29. The advantages of CBD oil for seizures may be lost during long-term use.

(Medical Xpress)

According to an Israeli study, one-third of adults and children who were taking CBD oil for epilepsy stopped using it after 20 months. The reasons for this decision included side effects (nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite) and lack of effectiveness.

30. The ketogenic diet can help to curb epileptic seizures.


That does not mean it is universal, though. Epilepsy statistics say it is helpful with children who suffer from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and myoclonic-astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome). Adults don’t show much improvement, however. The diet is focused on severe carb restriction in favor of fats. While an average child takes 25% to 40% of their calories from fat, a kid on a ketogenic diet will take about 80% to 90%.


Overall, not much is known about epilepsy. Its causes are still a mystery and there is no cure for it, but rather a combination of treatments that may or may not work. Epilepsy statistics concerning children are very worrying and on the increase. Hopefully, research about CBD effects is bringing good news and making cannabis history as you are reading this. It is possible to live a seizure-free life even if one is diagnosed with the disease. Without a doubt, CBD can help a great deal.


What percentage of people with epilepsy have partial seizures?

There are two types of partial seizures:

  • Simple partial seizures — about 14% of patients with epilepsy experience this type. A person does not lose consciousness or awareness. There is no mental confusion; just simple motor or sensory changes.
  • Complex partial seizures — 36% of people with epilepsy experience these. In contrast to the previous simple type , a person experiences brief mental confusion, or short loss of awareness, along with involuntary movements. Consequently, such epilepsy is usually misdiagnosed.


Does epilepsy ever go away?

Yes, it is possible. According to some research results, 50 out of 100 children outgrow their epilepsy. It was reported that after twenty years had passed from their first diagnosis, 75 out of 100 people were free from seizures for at least 5 years.

This is a complex condition that is not always easy to recognize, and even the seizures don’t have to be too obvious. It is possible to get off the epilepsy medications and be seizure-free for the rest of your life, but it’s not that common.

(Epilepsy Foundation) (Young Epilepsy)

What is the percentage of population with epilepsy today?

The latest WHO statistics inform us there are 50 million people around the world diagnosed with the disease.

There are 7.7 billion people in the world. When we do the maths, it turns out that 0.64% of the world population suffers from some form of epilepsy.

Regarding the States, there are 1.1% of adult Americans living with epilepsy.

(WHO) (United Nations) (Statista)

List of Sources:

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