Epilepsy Talk

Seizure Provoking Conditions | October 18, 2017

Few of these conditions will cause epilepsy itself…but many can lead to seizures. So consider this a definition of the possibilities…


Whether it be physical abuse or sexual, emotional abuse or just plain neglect, any or all of them can lead to serious consequences in children and adults alike. The stain of that memory lingers, and may lead to Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) which find their very origin in psychological trauma or conflict that impacts the patient’s state of mind.

Aicardi Syndrome

Aicardi syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that interferes with the formation of the corpus collusum, the connector between two hemispheres of the brain. Medical researchers don’t believe that the disorder is passed down from parents to children. Scientists instead think it is caused by a first-time mutation in a child’s genetic code.

Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium

Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It causes sudden and severe problems in your brain and nervous system. Approximately five percent of hospital patients are being treated for alcohol abuse.

Amphetamine Dependence

People who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sometimes require amphetamine stimulants to help them cope. Some people take amphetamines to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

Anxiety and Depression

Benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal — some of which may last for years. Benzodiazepines include: Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and others.

Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome

Basal cell nevus syndrome is a group of defects caused by a rare genetic condition. It affects the skin, endocrine system, nervous system, eyes, and bones.

Brain Abscess

An abscess of the brain is usually the result of a bacterial or fungal infection. The infection will cause your brain to swell from the collection of pus and dead cells that form.

Brain Aneurysm

An aneurysm in the brain is a weak area in an artery in the brain that bulges out and fills with blood. It may also be called an intracranial (skull) aneurysm or a cerebral (brain) aneurysm.

Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is an overgrowth of cells in the brain that form masses called tumors. Cancerous (malignant) brain tumors tend to grow very quickly. They disrupt the way your body works, and this can be life threatening.

Brain Hypoxia

Brain hypoxia, also called cerebral hypoxia, is decreased oxygen in the brain. You are at risk for this condition if you are drowning, choking, suffocating, or in cardiac arrest.

Brain Lesions

A brain lesion describes damage or destruction to any part of the brain. It may be due to trauma or any other disease that can cause inflammation, malfunction, or destruction of a brain cells or brain tissue. A lesion may be localized to one part of the brain or they may be widespread. The initial damage may be so small as to not produce any initial symptoms, but progresses over time to cause obvious physical and mental changes.

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor is a collection (or mass) of abnormal cells in the brain. The skull is very rigid and the brain is enclosed, so any growth inside such a restricted space can cause problems. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). When benign or malignant tumors grow, they can cause the pressure inside the skull to increase. This can cause brain damage and even death.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine overdose may occur when you ingest more than the recommended amount of caffeine, which is usually 200 to 300 mg per day.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is both odorless and colorless. It emanates from anything that produces combustion fumes. Common devices that produce these fumes include: heaters, fireplaces, car mufflers, and space heaters.

Celiac Disease (Gluten Intolerance)

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder. It’s caused by an immune reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is also known as: sprue nontropical, sprue gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in foods made with wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. It is also found in oats that have been processed in plants that handle other grains. Gluten can be found in some medicines, vitamins, and lipsticks.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of muscle movement and coordination caused by an injury to a child’s brain that occurs before birth or during infancy. It affects the part of the brain that controls body movement.

Child Abuse

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. Usually it occurs after an impact to your head or after a whiplash-type injury. A concussion can cause many severe symptoms that affect brain function.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes destruction of the kidneys. It’s progressive and irreversible. Your kidneys are an essential part of your body. They have a number of functions, helping maintain the balance of mineral elements.

Chronic Subdural Hematoma

A chronic subdural hematoma (SDH) is a pool (or collection) of blood on the brain’s surface under the dura, which is the outer covering of the brain. It usually begins forming several days or weeks after bleeding initially starts. This bleeding is usually due to a head injury. Other names for this condition are chronic subdural hemorrhage and subdural hygroma. These hematomas don’t always produce symptoms. When they do, they generally require surgical treatment.


Dementia can increase the risk of epilepsy in older adults.


Eclampsia is a rare but severe condition that causes seizures during pregnancy. Seizures are periods of disturbed brain activity that can cause episodes of staring, decreased alertness, and violent shaking.


Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue. Most cases are caused by viral infections. In rare cases, it can also be caused by bacteria. There are two main types of encephalitis — primary and secondary. Primary encephalitis is when a virus directly infects the brain and spinal cord. Secondary encephalitis is when an infection that starts elsewhere, travels to your brain.


Encephalopathy is brain disease, damage, or malfunction. Encephalopathy can present a very broad spectrum of symptoms that range from mild — such as some memory loss or subtle personality changes — to severe, such as dementia, seizures, coma, or death. In general, encephalopathy is manifested by an altered mental state that is sometimes accompanied by physical manifestations (for example, poor coordination of limb movements).

Epidural Hematoma

An epidural hematoma occurs when blood fills the area between the skull and the protective covering of the brain. This can result from a head injury.

Gaucher’s Disease

Gaucher’s disease is an inherited condition in which your body does not store fatty materials (called lipids ) correctly. Fatty substances can build up around your vital organs, including: your liver, spleen, lungs, bones, and brain.

Genetic Influence

Some types of epilepsy, which are categorized by the type of seizure you experience or the part of the brain that is affected, run in families. In these cases, it’s likely that there’s a genetic influence.

Head Injury

A head injury could be an injury to the brain, skull, or scalp. It can vary in severity depending on the cause. In some cases, face swelling can be a sign of a head injury.

Heat Emergencies

Heat emergencies are health crises caused by exposure to hot weather and sun. Heat emergencies have three stages: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. All three stages are serious.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is a hereditary condition in which your brain’s nerve cells gradually break down. This degeneration causes uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties, and emotional disturbance. Specifically affected are cells of the basal ganglia, structures deep within the brain that have many important functions, including coordinating movement.


Hydrocephalus is a condition in which the primary characteristic is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. Although hydrocephalus was once known as “water on the brain,” the “water” is actually cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) — a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The excessive accumulation of CSF results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.


Hypercalcemia is a condition in which you have too much calcium in your blood. Calcium performs important functions, such as helping to keep your bones healthy. However, too much of it can cause problems.


Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands in the neck do not produce enough parathyroid hormone (PTH). Everyone has four parathyroid glands, located near or behind the thyroid gland. Each small gland is the size of a grain of rice. The major function of PTH is to regulate the level of calcium in the body. It also controls the level of phosphorus and participates in the production of the active form of Vitamin D. All of these activities are required to maintain calcium balance.

Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, often called “mono,” is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It typically occurs in teenagers, but you can get it at any age. The virus is spread through saliva, which is why some people call it the “kissing disease”.

Kidney Failure

Your kidneys are a pair of organs located toward your lower back of the body, on either side of the spine. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and excess water from the blood in the form of urine.

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

An intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when blood suddenly bursts into brain tissue, causing damage to the brain, which may present symptoms similar to that of a stroke.

Intracranial Hemorrhage (ICH)

ICH is bleeding inside the skull. It’s a life-threatening emergency. If you think you or someone you know is experiencing ICH, go to the emergency room right away or call 911.

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (LKS or Infantile Acquired Aphasia)

Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS) is a childhood disorder. A major feature of LKS is the gradual or sudden loss of the ability to understand and use spoken language. All children with LKS have abnormal electrical brain waves that can be documented by an EEG, a recording of the electric activity of the brain. Approximately 80 percent of the children with LKS have one or more epileptic seizures that usually occur at night. Behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness and depression can also accompany this disorder. LKS may also be called infantile acquired aphasia, acquired epileptic aphasia or aphasia with convulsive disorder.

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning (plumbism) is especially dangerous because those with this disorder are being exposed to lead on a continual basis, resulting in long-term signs. In some geographic regions, lead poisoning is an important diagnostic consideration in anyone with seizures.

Low Blood Sodium (Hyponatremia)

Low blood sodium occurs when water and sodium are out of balance in your body. A quick drop in sodium levels can cause weakness, headache, nausea, and muscle cramps.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Also known as hypoglycemia, low blood sugar can be a dangerous condition. People often complain about low blood sugar. However, serious hypoglycemia is rare in adults and children over the age of 10.


The immune system normally fights off dangerous infections and bacteria to keep the body healthy. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks its own body because it confuses it for something foreign.


Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. the parasite is released into your bloodstream.

Malignant Hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common condition that affects one in three Americans. High blood pressure is diagnosed if your blood pressure is 120 systolic and/or 80 diastolic (120/80 mmHg).

Mercury Poisoning

A large epidemiological study by the National Institute of Health, the nation’s principal health statistics agency,  found a significant correlation between having a larger number of amalgam fillings and people suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Fewer of those with these conditions have zero fillings than those of the general population while more of those with the condition have 17 or more amalgam surfaces than in the general population. Other studies have found similar connections between vaccinations containing mercury and epilepsy.


People with epilepsy are more than twice as likely to develop migraine headaches as those without the disorder. Research showed that more than 20 percent of people with epilepsy have migraines, compared to 11 percent of the general population. Research shows that Depacon (Valproate) and Topamax (Topiramate) are effective in treating migraines and epilepsy. And each has FDA approval for treating them together. Depakote (Divalproex Sodium) also works for both, creating a therapeutic “two-fer.”
There are also several other anti-epileptic drugs that have also been shown to lessen migraine headaches: such as Neurontin (Gabapentin), Keppra ( Levetiracetam) and Zonegran (Zonisamide).

Mitochondrial Disease

Mitochondrial myopathies are a group of neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria — small, energy-producing structures that serve as the cells’ “power plants.” Nerve cells in the brain and muscles require a great deal of energy, and thus appear to be particularly damaged when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs.

Pituitary Cancer

The pituitary gland is a very small gland of major importance to the functioning of the human body. It is located directly behind the eyes and below the front of the brain. It is about the size of a pea. Despite its size, the pituitary gland is responsible for producing hormones that regulate very critical body organs and glands. Some of these include the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and the testicles. It is because of this control of other body systems that the pituitary gland is known as the “master” gland.

Prenatal Injury

Before birth, babies are sensitive to brain damage that could be caused by several factors, such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy. There can be developmental disorders and epilepsy can sometimes be associated with those developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.

Primary Cerebral Lymphoma

Primary cerebral lymphoma is also known as brain lymphoma or central nervous system lymphoma. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system.

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome is caused by forcefully and violently shaking a baby. Other names for this condition include abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, whiplash shake syndrome, and inflicted head injury.

Skull Fractures

A skull fracture is any break in the cranial bone or skull. There are many types of skull fractures, but only one cause: an impact or blow to the head that is strong enough to break the bone.

Stroke and Other Vascular Diseases

Stroke and other blood vessel (vascular) diseases can lead to brain damage that may trigger epilepsy. You can take a number of steps to reduce your risk of these diseases, including limiting your intake of alcohol and avoiding cigarettes, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

Subdural Hematoma

A subdural hematoma refers to an accumulation of blood on the brain’s surface beneath the skull. Subdural hematomas may be life threatening. They usually result from a head injury.

Tay-Sachs Disease

Tay-Sachs, a disease of the central nervous system is a neurodegenerative disorder. Tay-Sachs most commonly affects infants. In infants, it is a progressive disease that is unfortunately always fatal.

Toxic Shock Syndrome 

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but serious medical condition caused by a bacterial infection. This condition is the result of toxins produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Although toxic shock syndrome has been linked to tampon use in menstruating women, this condition can affect men, children, and people of all ages. According to the National Institutes of Health, tampon use is a factor in less than half of toxic shock cases.

Tuberous Sclerosis (TS)

A rare genetic condition. Sometimes called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), the disorder causes noncancerous (benign) tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs, and on the skin. Tubers are root-shaped growths, and sclerosis means hardening of tissue. TS can be due to either heredity or spontaneous gene mutation. Some people have only mild symptoms while others experience developmental delay, autism, mental retardation, seizures, tumors, and skin abnormalities. The disorder can be present at birth, but symptoms may be mild at first, taking years to develop fully.

Underactive Pituitary Gland (Hypopituitarism)

Your pituitary gland is located just below your brain. It releases eight hormones that each plays its own role in your body processes. Functions range from stimulating bone growth to prompting your thyroid gland to release hormones that control your metabolism.

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  1. For me, I think it was some combination of gluten intolerance and caffeine overdose in addition to the fact that I only have one kidney (not technically CKD, just a congenital anomaly).
    You might add to the list chronic or intense sleep deprivation as well as chronic stress although I know those things can be hard to quantify.
    You also mentioned blood sugar roller-coasters as a factor.
    So basically you take a college student (me) with only one kidney (something I didn’t know ’til years later) who is cramming for finals, not getting any sleep and living on coffee, chocolate bars, Kraft Mac’n’Goo and pizza, and BAM you get seizures.
    But instead of looking for the underlying issues, the medical world says, “Here have a pill, or three”.


    Comment by paleobird — October 18, 2017 @ 12:36 PM

  2. NEVER eat any KRAFT FOODS, as 99% of them are MSG saturated to make it all taste good. The sad thing here is NOTHING !!,, not 1 word I read to let other people who are suffering with seizures, to know what food & drug additives, preservatives, & chemicals, can make brain chemistry abnormal & not be stable from the MSG’s & ASPARTAME’s & what they can or will do to a human brain, relating to having seizures, that some people just say NO to talk about. These toxins can cause severe migraine headaches as well as seizures, and still all is hush hush about this SERIOUS problem that WE live with. It’s sad that only specific topics matter most, but the obvious root causes, made by & from the food & drug world is silent & being IGNORED.


    Comment by C D — October 18, 2017 @ 9:00 PM

  3. Yes. Had dull headaches every single day- until I was lucky enough to come across an article pertaining to Aspartame (i.e. Equal sweetener) was the culprit. Stopped using it- after a couple days, never had any more headaches. Watch the label(s).


    Comment by Karen — October 22, 2017 @ 5:03 PM

  4. Please consider adding neglect and malnutrition (accidental or forms of abuse) to this list.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — March 2, 2020 @ 3:06 PM

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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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