What Causes Epilepsy?

There are many causes of epilepsy. For almost 60% of people diagnosed with epilepsy, the cause of their seizures is not immediately known and further investigation are needed to determine the underlying cause. This is sometimes called ‘idiopathic’ epilepsy. Modern investigations and technologies such as improved medical imaging and genetic testing are revealing causes in more and more patients.

Some of the causes of epilepsy could include:

  • Brain abnormalities that occur in utero (before birth)
  • Low oxygen during birth
  • Brain injury, such as after a traumatic head injury
  • Brain infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Stroke, which can lead to scarring of the brain
  • Brain tumour, either benign or malignant
  • Low blood glucose can impair the brain’s ability to function
  • Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Another condition which increases the likelihood of developing epilepsy, such as Cerebral Palsy or Down syndrome.

Events such as illness, flashing lights, stress, or sleep deprivation can trigger seizures in people who have epilepsy. You can learn more about seizure triggers here.




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