How Common is Epilepsy?

November 1, 2017

by Mitch Jackson

Epilepsy is a common neurological disease* characterized by the tendency to have recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

Did you expect to see the word “common” in that description? You may not have, because epilepsy is an invisible disability.  Its symptoms are only visible to others during seizures. This invisibility can make it surprising that so many people have epilepsy.

In Ottawa and the surrounding rural regions alone, there are almost 10,000 people living with epilepsy. That’s pretty much the entire population of Carleton Place.

In fact, about 260,000 Canadians have epilepsy – approximately 90,000 in Ontario alone – and about 50 million people worldwide live with epilepsy. 2.4 million people across the globe are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. It can impact anyone of any age, race, and sex. Many famous people have had epilepsy, including Neil Young, Lil Wayne, Prince, Susan Boyle, Harriet Tubman, Florence Griffith Joyner, and many others!

Because so many people are living with epilepsy in the Ottawa region, it is important to spread awareness about epilepsy. We need to make epilepsy visible so that we can break down the barriers that people with epilepsy face in their lives.

We want to create a community where persons affected by epilepsy are empowered and supported to live life to the fullest, free of stigma and barriers.

Let’s show those 10,000 people living with epilepsy in and around Ottawa that we support them. Find out how you can get involved here in our Face to Face campaign.


*Recently, the Executive Committee of the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy decided to classify epilepsy as a disease to better represent the seriousness of epilepsy to the public.