Epilepsy is one of Australia’s most prominent chronic diseases, according to research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

For some Australians, like Sophie Luxton, it is a lifelong condition that is detected from an early age, but most epilepsy sufferers are people aged between 19 and 64, according to a Fact Sheet from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Miss Luxton is a university student who works part-time, has had her fair share of struggles living with the condition.

The AIHW has publsihed  data  on the prevalence of self-reported epilepsy from 2017-2018.

The data shows that females aged between 19 and 64 were the highest in the age group to live with the chronic disease.

Miss Luxton, 21, said that becoming a young adult has been a different experience for her, compared to most people her age.

“I wasn’t able to get my drivers licence until I was 19, which affected the jobs I could apply for by not having a reliable commute,” she said.

She said social settings was also sometimes challenging, as she can’t consume alcohol, with her doctors advising that mixing her medications with alcohol could lead to more seizures.

“I am not going to take that chance but, a lot of people don’t take me seriously when I say that I have never drank. I have been pushed to drink many times in social settings,” she said.

Medication is a big factor that affects someone with epilepsy. According to the AIHW, seven out of 10 people become seizure free with medication, with data revealing the prescribed medications dispensed for the condition in the 2019-20.

Miss Luxton has been taking medication since 2009, when she was first diagnosed with epilepsy at six years of age.  She still takes two different types of medication everyday; Tegretol (Carbamazepine) and Lamotrigine. Lamotrigine was the third most prescribed medication in 2020.

“Without my medication the doctors say I would be having multiple seizures a day but as long as I take my meds I am seizure free,” Miss Luxton said.

Before she was diagnosed Miss Luxton spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals.

“The doctors didn’t know what was happening,” she said.

Data from the 2018-19 show that young Australians aged 5-9, had a high rate of hospitalisation without a definite diagnosis.

Epilepsy is a challenge for people like Miss Luxton, although with advancements in medications epileptics can become seizure free.