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This article was published in December 2012. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Seizures in the States: are you seeing a specialist?

18 Dec 2012

Doctor speaks to a mature female patientA new report has found that only about half of US adults with ‘active’ epilepsy see a specialist.

The report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one per cent of adults have active epilepsy, while 0.8 per cent have inactive epilepsy.

Active epilepsy is defined as either newly diagnosed, recent seizures or epilepsy being treated with medicine to control seizures. Inactive epilepsy is when someone has been diagnosed with epilepsy, but has not had a seizure for 12 months or more and is not taking medicine.

In both groups, the number of people that reported a recent consultation was low. Only 53.4 per cent (just over half) of people with active epilepsy had seen a specialist. Meanwhile, 6.9 per cent of those with inactive epilepsy had a consultation with a specialist (around seven people in every 100).

American flagCombined, only a third of people with a history of epilepsy had visited an epilepsy specialist in the past year. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends visiting a specialist at least once a year if you have epilepsy. This should be the case regardless of whether you have particular problems to discuss.

While the research shows that specialist consultation figures are low, people with epilepsy are more likely to visit a family doctor than people who do not have epilepsy. Specifically, 86.4 per cent of adults with active epilepsy visited a family doctor in the past year, compared to 66.1 per cent of the general population.

These findings are based on data from the National Health Interview Survey.

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