Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy Related Conditions | October 8, 2017

In chronic conditions, such as epilepsy, the coexistence of more than one illness in a patient is the rule rather than the exception…

Men and women with epilepsy have a two-to five-fold increase in the occurrence of conditions, such as migraine, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disorders, along with gastrointestinal disorders, pulmonary disorders, dementia, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, anxiety, and personality disorders.

The type and prevalence of conditions is largely age dependent.  For example, among epilepsy patients, asthma is common among the young, while cardiovascular diseases and stroke are prevalent in older individuals—but both occur more frequently than in the general population.

Below is a sampling of some of the conditions which are related (but not necessarily caused) by epilepsy…

Epilepsy and Heart Disease

The neural activity that accompanies seizures has long been known to affect cardiac functioning. But in patients with nonconvulsive types of epilepsy, these secondary symptoms may be misread as the primary illness.

Five specific cardiac problems have been linked to epilepsy: irregular heartbeat, anginal chest pain, pulmonary edema, symptoms of a tumor linked to hypertension — and sudden death. This is because the areas of the brain affected by epileptic episodes are linked to the hypothalamus, the section of the brain that affects the autonomic nervous system.

People with epilepsy are two to three times more likely to suffer sudden death than the general population. Up to 30% of those deaths cannot be explained. Doctors suspect epilepsy-related cardiac troubles as a major cause due to death of the muscular tissues in the heart.


A diabetic seizure occurs as a result of a burst of simultaneous, contradictory signals from brain cells.  There are many causes of seizures including head trauma, fever, illness.  Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) and hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) both can cause seizure, convulsion, coma, and even death.

People with the tendency to have seizures are more likely to have one triggered by fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Persons with hyperglycemia tend to have focal or local seizures, whereas those who are hypoglycemic, tend to have tonic-clonic seizures, also called a hypoglycemic-induced seizure.


A seizure complication of infection can consist of a single seizure or can go on to become a chronic epilepsy. Seizures can arise as an acute, subacute, or long-term consequence of an infectious state. The type of epileptic complication and when it arises depends on the nature of the infectious illness, its duration, plus the type and extent of damage to the central nervous system.

Inflammatory Disorders

Inflammatory disorders are characterized by their systemic effects. The immune response to these illnesses may cause dysfunction in tissues other than the typically affected organs.

When the central nervous system is involved, a wide range of neurologic symptoms occurs, including epileptic seizures as well as headaches, confusion, and coma. Seizures or other neurologic abnormalities sometimes may be the initial or even the only manifestation of a systemic inflammatory disorder.


These headaches, with no identifiable underlying cause includes migraines as well as tension-type headaches, cluster headaches and a number of rare disorders.  It is analogous to idiopathic epilepsy and individuals with one disorder are at least twice as likely to have the other.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are common, treatable conditions that frequently coexist with epilepsy. Understanding the relationship between epilepsy and sleep disorders is important for optimum results.

Treatment of a coexisting sleep disorder may improve seizure control, daytime alertness, or both. However, sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, nocturnal panic disorder, excessive daytime sleepiness, may actually mimic epileptic seizures.

What is Your Disorder?

You may, yourself, suffer from an epilepsy related condition.  The names and numbers of these illnesses are vast.  If there’s something I’ve omitted which you would like to include, please, feel free to chime in!













  1. “Men and women with epilepsy have a two-to five-fold increase in the occurrence of conditions, such as migraine, ….chronic fatigue, mood disorders, anxiety, and personality disorders.”
    Hmmm. Maybe that’s why everyone on the Coping With Epilepsy site seems to be so cranky 🙂 JK (sorta).

    But seriously. My “other disorder” is breast cancer. Did you find any stats about epilepsy and cancer overlap? I’m currently dealing with the second bout of this. I beat it ten years ago but it is back for a rematch. Dangit!


    Comment by paleobird — October 8, 2017 @ 12:55 PM

  2. Darn…you gave law enforcement more ammunition to say epileptics are mentally ill. I’m sure I could find statistics contrary to the ones cited in your column. You’re not on my side:-(


    Comment by Susan Vander Veer — October 8, 2017 @ 1:11 PM

    • “It’s interesting that whenever a crime or harm is done to a person with epilepsy, or as soon as the person’s epilepsy becomes known, the accused are veiled in immunity.

      Any claims by someone with epilepsy that they have been physically abused are written off or ignored, stating that the person cannot function properly with their degree of epilepsy, and that additional treatment is necessary to prevent the incident from happening again.

      The degree of the outcome is basically irrelevant, from inflicted emotional trauma, to assault and battery, to robbery, kidnapping, rape, and murder.

      And, to add insult to injury, people with epilepsy experience these atrocities at a much higher frequency, because they are regarded as having something “wrong” with them.

      The results of the harm will most likely be often written off because the person had epilepsy. Therefore they don’t “count.”

      Even the number of witnesses, the degree of evidence, and the presence of law enforcement officials are basically irrelevant. Most people tend to turn their heads and pretend nothing happened.

      Well-documented cases with complete sets of video, don’t sustain punishment, legal action, correction, change in policy or even change in protocol.

      And so the blame goes to the victim. (Are they insinuating that we’re all nuts?)

      This resulting denial of “equal protection under the law” is an additional abuse.

      It’s sad to know, the very “authorities” who swore to protect, serve and save our lives, can be as deadly as the epileptic seizures we are forced to live with, everyday.

      Elsewhere, this country would call such abuse as crimes against humanity.

      In most states, having a seizure is technically illegal, and while prosecutions are not many, they do happen.

      When prosecutions happen, many states only allow the insanity defense, which strongly implies that the government itself regards epilepsy as a form of mental illness, in addition to the prejudiced public.”

      Who’s at Fault?



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 8, 2017 @ 2:17 PM

  3. Wow, and I thought these symptoms were due to my traumatic brain injury! Does this mean I’m twice as likely to have dementia? (Rhetorical question, I know) 😊
    Do all these have to do with petite mal seizures too?


    Comment by Amy — October 8, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

    • I think they’re pretty generalized statements…not to pertaining to one type or another, but rather “seizure disorders”.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 8, 2017 @ 6:39 PM

  4. My epilepsy started in my fifties. I believe caused by combination of mercury toxicity due to mouth full of silver fillings when I was 11yrs old Epstein Bar Virus due to mononucleosis when I was 12 yrs old and head trauma due to automobile accident when I was 30yrs old. I also discovered diet, impurities in my food and excessive sugar triggers my seizures. Unfortunately conventional neurologist are not educated about this and only want to prescribe medication. I say YES our environment definitely affects our nervous system..


    Comment by Deborah Harley — October 8, 2017 @ 3:49 PM

    • Wow, if anyone wanted to point to cause and effect, that would be you.

      I’m so sorry you went through all of that and were exposed (unwittingly) to such things as mercury toxicity. 😦

      Yes, our environment is part and parcel of our health. I couldn’t agree more.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 8, 2017 @ 6:43 PM

  5. WOW, All these times when I was having seizures, I was always wondering WHY my heart & my left-hand blood vains feel like racing to explode, before I ended up being unconscious & knocked out to the ground to only wake up disoriented & confused in hospital emergency rooms.
    Never did I imagined the link between my neurological disorder to cardiac malfunctioning.
    I guess, I got a long way to go before knowing the entire dramatic disorders behind Epilepsy.

    Phyllis, I may had hard time ACCEPTING being Epileptic & hoped to the neurological disorder to go away, but thanks to you I’m learning the bigger scope of the neurological disorder & on the mechanism to cope with the disorder.
    Thanks for your commitment, devotion & hardwork to fight against Epilepsy, many of us are learning the bigger scenarios beyond our
    epileptic seizures.
    Thanks for this great article, connecting the missing links of the whole epileptic ordeals.


    Comment by Gerrie — October 8, 2017 @ 11:38 PM

    • Thanks Gerrie, for the compliment. I’m sure there are more missing links that I haven’t even come close to discovering.

      The scope is literally behind comprehension — for us, docs, surgeons, neuro engineers and all those who work to understand and conquer epilepsy daily.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 9, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

  6. Reblogged this on catsissie.


    Comment by catsissie — October 9, 2017 @ 3:48 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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