1. You can’t swallow your tongue during a seizure. It's physically impossible!
  2. Never force something into the mouth of a person having a seizure. It could chip their teeth, cut their gums, or even break their jaw. The correct first aid is simple. Just gently roll the person on one side, support their head, protect them from injury, and make sure their breathing is okay.  
  3. Don’t restrain someone having a seizure. Most seizures will end on their own in a few seconds or minutes. Learn these simple first aid guidelines to use when a person is having a seizure.
  4. Epilepsy isn’t contagious. You can't catch it from or give it to another person.
  5. Anyone can develop epilepsy. Seizures start for the first time in older adults almost as often as in children. For older people, seizures often happen because of other health problems, like stroke or heart disease. Learn more about who gets epilepsy.
  6. Most people with epilepsy can do the same things as people without epilepsy. However, some people with frequent seizures may not be able to work or drive. Or they may have problems with memory, thinking, mood, or coordination that could affect school, work or other parts of life.
  7. People with epilepsy can handle jobs with responsibility and stress. They may work in business, government, the arts, and all sorts of professions. If stress makes their seizures worse, they may need to learn ways to manage stress at work. But everyone needs to learn how to cope with stress! There are some jobs that people with epilepsy can’t do because of possible safety problems, like driving a school bus. Otherwise, having epilepsy shouldn’t limit the type of job that a person has. Learn more about epilepsy and work.
  8. Epilepsy can’t be cured. It is a chronic medical problem. For many people, medicines work to treat their epilepsy, but treatment doesn't work for everyone. More than 1 million people in the United States have uncontrolled epilepsy. There is still an urgent need for more research to find better treatments and a cure.
  9. Epilepsy isn’t rare. Epilepsy is more than twice as common in the U.S. as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined. Epilepsy can happen by itself, or with other conditions that affect the brain, like cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer's, and traumatic brain injury.
  10. You can die from epilepsy. While death in epilepsy isn’t common, epilepsy is a very serious condition and people do die from seizures sometimes.
    • The most common cause of death is SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy). While there is a lot we still don’t know about SUDEP, about 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP each year. Learn more about SUDEP and the risks of death in epilepsy.
    • People can also die from prolonged seizures (called “status epilepticus”). These seizure emergencies cause 22,000 to 42,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. 
  11. Each person’s seizures are different. But seizures are usually stereotypic, which means that for each seizure type a person has, the same things tend to happen each time. What a person does during a seizure may be inappropriate for the time and place, but it isn’t likely to hurt anyone. Learn more about what happens during a seizure.
  12. People with epilepsy are usually not physically limited. During and after a seizure, a person may have trouble moving or doing their usual activities. Some people with epilepsy may have trouble with physical abilities because of other problems in their brain or nervous system. Otherwise, a person usually doesn’t have any physical limitations when they are not having a seizure.
Authored By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Wednesday, October 15, 2014