Epilepsy Talk

Weird Epilepsy Triggers | November 14, 2017

Here’s a list of uncommon epilepsy triggers you may have experienced or know about. Feel free to add to this list of the weird and the unknown…

Atmospheric Conditions

Changes in air pressure or any sudden action, (like arising from a prone position too quickly), can act as an instant stressor. Like taking off or landing in an airplane…going up or down on a fast elevator or escalator…

Barometric Pressure

Weather differences such as sudden changes in temperature, dark skies, thunder, or bright, hot sunlight and humidity may be a definite trigger for some.

Body Toxins

Exposure to toxins in our air, water or food, can cause everything from vomiting, diarrhea, liver or renal failure, blood sugar levels, and electrolyte imbalances. Constipation can be added to the list also. When these things happen, all the toxins already in our system build up. It also might be a side-effect of your drugs or it may cause the effectiveness of your medications, but ether way, you are at risk.


You always thought you could be “bored to death” but it can also incite a seizure. By being isolated, having no social interactions, diversions, or recreational activities — all that’s left is to think about yourself and anticipate when your next seizure will come.


The flashing lights and all the noise and hubbub at a casino — ringing bells, blaring music, — is enough to give anyone a headache, no less a seizure.

Dental Problems

Have your teeth and gums checked regularly. Some of your medications just love the calcium found in teeth and bones, making them fragile and prone to breakages and disease. Dental disease can no longer be considered a minor problem with just your gums and teeth. Your state of health (especially the state of your immune system), whether you still have amalgam fillings, the amount of mercury you’ve been exposed to over time, and the amount still present in your body, directly influence the number and severity of your symptoms. You’ll never achieve optimum health if you have poor oral health.


People with hyperglycemia tend to have focal or local seizures. And those who are hypoglycemic, tend to have tonic-clonic seizures. To keep your blood sugar from fluctuating, eat a good breakfast when you wake up. Complex carbohydrates will help start your day and give you sustained energy throughout. Also, try to eat wholesome snacks often during the day to keep your system balanced.


It has been proven that grapefruit/juice/rind/skin can negatively affect some medications. You are probably saying “but I thought these grapefruits were good for me and my health?” Grapefruit juice provides many nutrients such as Vitamin C, but chemicals in grapefruit interfere with enzymes that break down certain medications in your digestive system which, in turn, causes a high risk of bringing on seizures. Tegretol in any form is one of the main anti-epilepsy medications that grapefruit affects.


Sometimes in a stressful situation, it’s the body’s way of saying there is confusion in the brain and it just doesn’t know where to turn. Oxygen is not getting to your brain and the hyperventilation expends vast amounts of energy. You could be in shock and this is where it is difficult to tell whether it is a response from an over stimulated brain or a true seizure. But you could go on to have an epileptic seizure following the stress and lack of oxygen. (For a long time, hyperventilation has been used as a means to provoke seizures. It’s often used to trigger epileptiform discharges and/or seizures during EEGs.)

Immersion in Hot or Cold Water

Anything done too suddenly (a quick change of any kind) can lead to a seizure. Going from cold to a warm temperature, or going from a warm house to a bitter cold day outdoors can shock your system. When having a bath it is best to have the bath water warm rather than hot as getting into a hot bath, along with the added humidity present in the bathroom also may be enough to trigger a seizure. When immersing yourself in cold water it is best to do this gradually and make sure you have another person with you to ensure your safety.

Low Blood Sugar Level

This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration.


People with epilepsy are more than twice as likely to develop migraine headaches as those without seizures. Research showed that more than 20 percent of people with epilepsy have migraines, compared to 11 percent of the general population. And there’s an overlap in the two conditions. In another epilepsy study, about 16% of those people who had migraines also experienced epileptic seizures before, during or after a migraine.

Odors and Perfumes

Perfume directly affects the brain and has both a physiological and a psychological effect upon our respiration and breathing, as well as upon our moods and thoughts. Although our sense of smell declines with age, you need to be aware that strong or even subtle smells or perfumes can be one of your triggers for seizures. Sometimes a person who has experienced some seizure activity brought about by a particular odor may not discuss it because they think other people, even their doctors, will think they’re crazy. But it’s for real. And then there are other odors, much less enticing, some of which include paint, hairspray, cleaning products, ammonia, kerosene, car exhaust fumes, gasoline and solvents.


Apparently, playing this thinking game, which can require intense concentration, can induce seizures. (You heard it first here!)


Musicogenic epilepsy is a form of reflexive epilepsy in which a seizure is triggered by music or specific frequencies. Sensitivity to music varies from person to person. Some people are sensitive to a particular tone from a voice or instrument. Others are sensitive to a particular musical style or rhythm. Still others are sensitive to a range of noises.


Causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea includes pauses in breathing, indicated by gasping, snoring or difficulty in breathing during the night. It is more common in men than in women, and often occurs in larger people whose throat muscles and fat tissue cause an obstruction while they’re sleeping. These pauses in breathing can easily be confused with seizures. In fact, having apnea can trigger seizures. Having seizures can also trigger apnea; so it can work either way.


Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Water is good for us, but it can dilute your medications. It’s best to spread your fluid intake over the day. Your body needs a balance of salt and water. And be cautious of drinking water from plastic bottles and leaving them lying around in the heat.


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Another article that may be of interest is:

Common Epilepsy Triggers

























  1. Please send info like this to me!!


    Comment by Travis Townsend — November 14, 2017 @ 11:12 AM

    • Join the website and you will get emails when an article is published. Simply go to the bottom of the right column and click on “Follow”


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 11:37 AM

  2. Curious to know if most of these symptoms lead to immediate seizures or can one be exposed to something during the day and still be effected at night? Our son gets seizures only when falling asleep so we try hard to come to any conclusions about the day (one we’ve found is food related) and any patterns from the previous seizure. He’s non verbal so makes it near impossible to get his input. Lack of sleep, fevers/infections and carrageenan seem to be what stands out. But am curious if anyone can sense something is setting them off during the day but not impacted by it until later?


    Comment by Sarah — November 14, 2017 @ 11:35 AM

    • Auras can take hours to manifest themselves.

      Perhaps this article will be helpful:

      The Four Stages of Seizures – Prodromal, Auras, Ictal and Postictal



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 11:40 AM

      • On your list of resources, you have Doc Wilson say the following. Not sure if this is the case for Sarahs child, but i thought it was interesting.

        “* 1. Dehydration, usually acute. This is very common and causes many seizures in children and adults. They can occur at any time. However, seizures at night may easily occur for this reason. ”

        Here is his website again.



        Comment by Zolt — November 14, 2017 @ 6:41 PM

      • Sigh. Zolt, you’re so smart.

        Sarah, I hope you get to read this.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 6:55 PM

      • Yes!! Thanks so much to both of you… I am midway through reading – my special needs (seizure son) is super sick and also have a 3yo, so reading comes in short bursts 🙂 But I very much appreciate all the resources and insight! Plan to finish after they go to bed!


        Comment by Sarah — November 14, 2017 @ 6:58 PM

      • Score one for Zolt. Again. He’s the best. (And one of the brightest!)

        I hope this info helps you, Sarah.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 7:01 PM

  3. Actually, the definition of “hyperventilation” is: “a condition characterized by abnormally prolonged and rapid breathing, resulting in decreased carbon dioxide levels and increased oxygen levels that produce faintness, tingling ofthe fingers and toes, and, if continued, alkalosis and loss of consciousness.” From http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hyperventilation.
    Because I believed breathing was part of my condition, I traveled to Santa Fe a few years ago to meet with a colleague of Dr. Peter Litchfield. http://www.breathing.com/school/plitchfield.htm. They set me up with a Capnometer, which measures CO2 levels. Since I was chronically hyperventilating, my CO2 levels were dangerously low. I was able to train myself to breathe LESS, increasing CO2 to the normal level. But since breathing is habitual and unconscious, this takes a dedicated long term effort and a bit of money for the device. (I used the device every night watching TV for an hour for months). Now, when I feel anxiety, I start automatically breathing more slowly and taking in less O2. Telling people just to “take a deep breath” when they are anxious is telling them the wrong thing! My second and third prongs have been the ketogenic diet and a detox protocol.


    Comment by Kathryn — November 14, 2017 @ 1:52 PM

    • Fascinating! Thanks for your input.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 3:18 PM

      • Very interesting to learn this, since I have a lot of anxiety too. Thank you for this post.


        Comment by Kevin — November 14, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

      • Anxiety is a killer. Literally and figuratively. Along with stress. 😦

        Stress can increase cortisol, known as “the stress hormone” because cortisol is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress.

        And, as you may imagine, it’s responsible for several stress-related changes in the body which also may influence seizure activity.

        Negative emotions related to stress, such as anger, worry or fright, may also cause seizures.

        This happens because the limbic system, the portion of the brain that regulates emotion, is one of the most common places for seizures to begin.

        You’ll probably find that you have more seizures during or after periods of anxiety or stress.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

  4. I am glad that you are talking about this issue triggers that can cause seizures. I had one many years ago which was a direct result of something I had eaten. It was super bowl day of all days and the entire family was gathered for a morning breakfast, I began to consume many pork link sausages and within just about an hour my stomach began to feel very sour, I went over to the couch, sat down and then stood up it was then that I started to have a grand mal seizure, it was later learned that I was highly allergic to pork. To this day I cannot eat anything with pork. I thought I would share this with everyone. It would be interesting to hear from other people who have had triggers too.


    Comment by Kevin — November 14, 2017 @ 4:38 PM

    • I’m allergic to beef, lamb, veal and pork (mammals, anything on four feet), however they don’t give me seizures.

      But the consequences are nearly as bad. (Colitis)


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 4:58 PM

      • Yes, it’s amazing how many people I run into that suffer food allergies or have severe reactions. You certainly have a few too, though it doesn’t lead to seizures it sounds like it definitely causes problems, (Colitis) Thank god for the natural doctors that I have seen in the past, it has really helped my condition. May I ask what your opinion is in CBD oil? I have been reading a lot about its usage and I have been hearing a lot of good results about it.


        Comment by Kevin — November 14, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

      • I don’t have any personal opinions on CBD oil, because I’ve never tried it. Sorry.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 6:21 PM

      • No problem.


        Comment by Kevin — November 14, 2017 @ 6:33 PM

  5. Hmm, interesting that Mah-Jong causes seizures, i wonder if Sudoku also causes seizures. I don’t think so, at least not for me, since i play it a lot and have had no seizures.



    Comment by Zolt — November 14, 2017 @ 6:51 PM

    • I know lots of people with epilepsy, TBI, etc. who play Sudoku to improve their memory.

      In fact, a close friend of mine who had TBI because of a surgery gone awry, has sworn on the game even since rehab!

      When did you start playing?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 14, 2017 @ 6:58 PM

  6. Hey Phylis,

    It’s a great game if you like numbers, and a lot of time can be wasted on it. 🙂 I started about a year ago, saw the game in a paper and solved it. Then tried another and couldn’t solve it. Since then i’ve been hooked, to the point where i will start my day playing it. 🙂



    Comment by Zolt — November 14, 2017 @ 7:29 PM

  7. Sudoku-for some it is a game for some it is a disease. I always hope that it will help my mental alertness but still my lack of memory leaves me feeling dumber as a rock.


    Comment by Ed Bradfield — November 15, 2017 @ 6:54 PM

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Don’t feel bad, I’m right behind you.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 15, 2017 @ 9:49 PM

      • It’s not really a memory game, but more of a deduction game using simple logic. If it were a memory game, i would not be very good either.



        Comment by Zolt — November 16, 2017 @ 9:11 AM

  8. Question: Meds with too much water? It still all is filtered
    in the kidneys, isn’t it?


    Comment by Karen — December 21, 2017 @ 2:11 PM

  9. Great information detailed here, thank you for sharing.
    One of my odder seizure triggers has been the smells of incense burning.


    Comment by vhealing — April 29, 2019 @ 6:48 PM

  10. I’m glad it was helpful.

    I guess the incense burning falls under “perfumes” and odors. But I never thought of that! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 29, 2019 @ 6:52 PM

  11. Two things that can “Trigger” a seizure for me:

    1. “Ringing In The Ears.” This is 24/7. Right now, it is HIGH Pitch! I have NO *Volume Control to turn down. And having tried to NOT drink caffeine, never helped.

    2. *Chewing Gum! The NOISE from chewing, is unbelievable! I used to chew just 1/2 a piece of *Dentyne Pure Gum. It helps me control my not eating as much. When having the aftertaste of food or drink eliminated, I wouldn’t want to eat. But *The NOISE!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Effie Erhardt — April 30, 2019 @ 10:10 PM

  12. Wow! That must drive you crazy! 😦

    I’ve heard of people having seizures triggered by noises but nothing ever so extreme.

    Do you think going to an audiologist might help with the ringing? It might be a case of tinnitus.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 1, 2019 @ 8:23 AM

  13. I’ve learned somethings after reading this, I have epilepsy and I am always wanting to learn something new about epilepsy I have died multiple times because of my siezures and the doctors have managed to bring me back each time.


    Comment by Seth — September 12, 2019 @ 4:05 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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    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.

    View Full Profile →

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