Questions Frequently Asked by Young People

The following are questions students often ask during a presentation about epilepsy.

Q: Can dogs/animals/pets have seizures?
A: Yes. Dogs and other animals can certainly have seizures. Family pets diagnosed with epilepsy by a veterinarian may even take the same kind of anti-seizure medication that a person with epilepsy would take to control their seizures.
Q: Is epilepsy genetic/does it run in families?
A: Some rare forms of epilepsy do seem to have a genetic link, but most individuals diagnosed with epilepsy are the only people in their families who have seizures. Doctors are doing research right now to determine what, if any, kinds of genetic causes there might be for seizure disorders.
Q: What causes epilepsy?
A: Anything that can damage or injure a person’s brain can lead to them having repeated seizures. Head trauma, birth trauma, strokes, brain tumors, infections like meningitis and encephalitis, and lead poisoning can all cause a person to have epilepsy. Because head injuries can lead to a person developing epilepsy, it is very important that people wear helmets while playing contact sports and while participating in other activities like rollerblading, bicycling and skateboarding. But in 7 out of 10 cases of epilepsy, doctors don’t know why a person has her seizures.
Q: Can a person have a seizure while they’re sleeping?
A: Yes. Sometimes, people ONLY have seizures while they’re asleep. These seizures are called “nocturnal seizures.”
Q: Can a person die from having a seizure?
A: Unfortunately, sometimes people do pass away as a result of having a seizure. This is a very rare occurrence, however, and most individuals who have seizures recover fully and safely from these experiences.

Students may ask questions for which you don’t have an answer. We recommend that you tell them that you don’t know the answer to the question at that moment, but that you will find out what the answer is and get back to them as soon as possible. Feel free to call our Foundation to find out more information, or tell the student that his/her question will be answered by the Project School Alert speaker when they visit the class.

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