Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by seizures, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epilepsy affects different people in different ways, with some people experiencing seizures that make them shake, collapse and be unaware of their surroundings and other people having seizures that just cause them to stare off into space. Some epileptics have just one kind of seizure, while others have multiple types.
The cause of epilepsy is sometimes unknown, according to the CDC. However, there are some known causes of the condition, including stroke, brain tumor, head injury, traumatic brain injury and infection of the central nervous system. Epilepsy is not contagious, however.
Around 4.3 million adults in the United States had epilepsy or a seizure disorder in 2013, notes the CDC. This represents 1.8 percent of adults age 18 or older. Around 750,000 children ages zero to 17 were epileptic in 2013, representing roughly 1 percent of the population in this age group.
Generalized seizures caused by epilepsy, sometimes called grand mal seizures, result in rhythmic movements of the arms and legs with the eyes usually open, according to WebMD. Urine loss during a seizure is common. A focal seizure or partial seizure may make a person appear to be confused or dazed, and make result in jerky movements and smacking of the lips.