Epilepsy Talk

Weird Epilepsy Triggers | March 27, 2020

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, (such as rising 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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  1. I don’t know if this is classed as `’weird” – perhaps lots of people know about it already – but the present Coronovirus pandemic has made me think of the following even more than usual. Anytime I have a fever/virus my seizures increase in number and severity. My nocturnal seizures can increase greatly – sometimes 3/4 severe tonic/clonic per night and a couple of times a week as well as several frequent partial daytime ones. You can imagine that I am very frightened of this present virus – I live in Scotland (UK) where we are a few weeks ahead of the USA in terms of the progress of the disease and are currently under complete lock down.
    Has anyone else experienced this virus-related seizure increase?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Margaret Hay — March 27, 2020 @ 12:39 PM

    • Margaret, I think the change of environment can trigger any sorts of seizures.

      Fevers can exacerbate seizures as a trigger.

      And the toxins included are not to be discounted.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 27, 2020 @ 12:48 PM

  2. Sudoku is a game i like to play and sharpen my mental abilities. Search for windows sudoku and download it for free. Or here is a site i downloaded it from.


    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Zolt — March 27, 2020 @ 1:17 PM

  3. Having to listen to too many people speaking at the same time troubles me. Alcohol, caffeine, antihistamine also. The list seems endless.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Douglas Lee-Murray — March 27, 2020 @ 1:23 PM

  4. This is all the more reason to find things to do while on lockdown during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Boredom can indeed invoke seizures.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Donna Jones — March 27, 2020 @ 2:07 PM

  5. Here’s, some more fuel for your fire Douglas:

    Common Epilepsy Triggers


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 27, 2020 @ 3:04 PM

  6. Lol oddly “CAR HORNS OR REDUNDANT SOUNDS”!! Funny how I can be home 24/7 alone, but once my daughter have had to stay home their rap music can also make me feel almost triggered as well. However sirens, house alarm (like mine), and evening car horns have been know to trigger my seizures as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 3:47 PM

    • Same here. I thought I was the only one who is driven to distraction, if not an outright seizure, by repetitive sound. My kitchen fan and bathroom fan really put my head in a spin.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Donna Jones — March 27, 2020 @ 6:33 PM

      • I’m so glad to hear that I’m not alone with this. Some repetitive movements get to me as well. I used to jog on a path where often a woman would come toward me wearing white gloves that moved as she walked. Ai! Had to change the time I went so that we wouldn’t meet.

        How fine it is to be able to exchange these stories. Thanks, Phylis!

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by HoDo — March 27, 2020 @ 7:23 PM

  7. Unbeknown to me, I found out the hard way that directly looking at or suddenly exposed to bright lights & high beams have been triggering my seizures for a long time, when I visited my eye doctor & had grandmal seizure in the doctor’s desk during an eye exam in the middle of a laser test for prescription glasses.
    Ever since the unexpected incident in the eye doctor’s office, I carry around dark glasses & avoid bright lights & high beams to save myself from being stricken with another seizure.
    Therefore, knowing the triggers to my seizures has helped me to curb the risks & frequency of my seizures.
    Thank you for sharing this informative article.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — March 27, 2020 @ 4:32 PM

    • When I go in for my eye appointments I have to take a lorazepam about 10 minutes before I go in. Because I know he’s going to do the light test on me too!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 10:58 PM

      • It’s good that you have a good idea of what to expect & you’re prepared ahead of time before the eye test.
        I wish I knew ahead of time what makes for an eye exam & had been aware of the risks to my seizures, before I ended up totally knocked out by the laser beam meant to test & measure the scope of my eyesight to only wake up in hospital ER bed for another grandmal seizure.
        In this & many other cases, I believe that knowing the triggers to my seizures could had helped me avoid a whole lot of hardships I’ve been through.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — March 28, 2020 @ 12:04 AM

      • I guess that’s where and how not only we learn, but are able to share some of our own learning curves or coping methods with one another 😊💕

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 28, 2020 @ 12:12 AM

  8. Some AHA! moments reading through this list. Thanks.

    Also I’d heard that migraines are co-occurring rather than triggers, but perhaps they can be both.

    There are also aura triggers, I think, which never quite develop into anything but certainly make a person watchful. Too many people talking at once does it for me. My brain says, “I’m here, you know, and I may have to indicate my displeasure.”

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — March 27, 2020 @ 6:27 PM

  9. I used to umpire and referee and if the temperature was high (90 degrees or higher), it could lead to seizures. I gave this up when my trips in an ambulance cost more than what I was making as an official.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Ed Lugge — March 27, 2020 @ 6:28 PM

  10. Whistling, of all things, is not my friend, as well as heat, fluorescent lights, bright sunlight bouncing off snow, and in general noisy places.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Marlyn — March 27, 2020 @ 10:05 PM

    • I never thought about the fluorescent lights until my husband (who WAS AN ELECTRICIAN) caught it and told me himself. For me one of my (USED TO BE) BIGGEST TRIGGERS was anything “BLACK AND WHITE”, but mostly CHECKERED!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:04 PM

      • Yes, Kathy. Checkered and herringbones patterns are bad. I once went by a table of pants in Sears and it was all patterned pants, and i thoughts I was going to keel over then and there.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Marlyn — March 27, 2020 @ 11:48 PM

      • Wow!! I have a very good friend who I could never visit simply because she had a “checkered floor”!! Finally one time I MADE MYSELF GO AND VISIT HER! Sure enough I came out if a seizure and her and I were laying in her bed!! I felt SO BAD because after that she changed her flooring and came to see me to check out her new floors. Lol my husband wasn’t very impressed because he said he hardly seen me for a very long time after that!! Lol 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:53 PM

      • The province of the country I live in also changed the colour of their road and highway signs from a brown and sometimes red, yellow or orange to a FLORESCENT GREEN!! I noticed AFTER THAT I HAD SEIZURES whenever we went around the signs, but mostly around corners and bends of the highway.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:56 PM

  11. Funny how riding horses and “country kid” stuff never bothered me. There was a LOT OF REDUNDANCY!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:06 PM

  12. Also ANYTHING “NON-DROWSY or DM” triggers my seizures too

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:07 PM

  13. I’ll never forget my VERY FIRST MAJOR “GRANDMAL SEIZURE”!!!!! All I honestly remember was doors slamming and asking if they can PLEASE SHUT THEM OFF?????!!!!!🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼”. I was talking about the sirens on the ambulance. They were TOO LOUD!! Even to this day (who would have thought!! Unless you know me) I STILL PLUG MY EARS AND CLOSE MY EYES or TURN MY HEAD away from the lights of police, fire trucks, and ambulances!! My husband and children CAN’T BELIEVE IT EITHER!!!!! Because I used to be a first responder and dispatcher. The only way I could really explain it to them was “I NEVER HAD TIME TO THINK OR FEEL!! ONLY TO DO!!!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:18 PM

  14. We also have a “security system” in our house. It took a bit of getting used to at first because we kept triggering it!! But THE FIRST TIME I TRIGGERED IT I WAS ALONE!!!!! I was actually outside (yes I was having a smoke, sorry I can’t lie) and I heard something. At first I wasn’t sure what I was hearing! Then I realized it was this “security alarm”. FOR THE LIFE OF ME I COULDN’T GET TO IT TO SHUT IT OFF!!!!!!! Until finally I put my headphones on and ran inside and was able to disarm it myself. Thank creator/god it never notified the emergency services!! But it DID NOTIFY MY HUSBAND, CHILDREN AND BEST FRIEND! Who ALL VERY QUICKLY PHONED ME!! Of course asking me if I was okay? I said “yes I am, but I couldn’t get inside to shut it off because of the sound!!!!!”. I swear that sound TRIGGERS SEIZURES IN ANYONE!!!!!!! Finally one night my daughter triggered it (in the middle of the night) and my husband ran and disarmed it. He came back to check on me and had to pull our pillows off of my head!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 11:30 PM

  15. How is the coronavirus up in your part of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by lanceminnis — March 27, 2020 @ 11:47 PM

    • I live in Pennsylvania.

      Philadelphia is an epicenter, but it hasn’t hit us hard in the far western suburbs.

      Thanks for asking Lance.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 28, 2020 @ 10:59 AM

  16. I think I would probably have to say (AFTER HAVING GONE THROUGH THIS NEW PANDEMIC) is HOW MUCH FEAR CAN TRULY HURT US IN WAYS EVEN THE MOST SEASONED ON OF “EPILEPTICS” WERE PREPARED FOR!!!!!!! For me I came to realize it’s simply THE LOVE OF MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN AND HOW MUCH I SO WANT TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT THEM ALL 24/7 365 DAYS A YEAR!!!!!!! Almost feel like the “OWL” sitting in a tree JUST WAITING AND WATCHING AND WAITING MORE!! Lol funny how we can either YEARN TO BE TOGETHER AND THEN YEARN TO HAVE SPACE FROM ONE ANOTHER!! I was almost able to let my children (grown or not) be their own person and NOT call them everyday to YEARNING JUST TO HEAR THEIR VOICES OR GET THEIR TEXTS!!!!!!! Lol then when we’re all here it’s nice at first UNTIL I HAVE TO PLAY “MOM, WIFE AND REFEREE!!!!!!!” 🙏🏼😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 28, 2020 @ 12:21 AM

    • I think the pandemic runs two ways: first the virus and then the fear.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 28, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

      • Well I guess that can actually work both ways. One being:
        1) we hunker down and pray our family and friends who are “ESSENTIAL WORKERS” REMAIN HEALTHY AND DON’T CATCH IT OR ARE CARRIERS!!
        2)we just all fear catching COVID-19 or CORONAVIRUS.
        Everyone knew at some point this was going to happen, but like friends or loved one of epileptics and their seizures “EVERYONE WAS TOO UNPREPARED AND CHOSE AVOIDANCE INSTEAD!! Now THEY ALL PANIC!! Either way “As Epileptics” on one hand at least we’re always prepared for the unknown. On the other hand preparing for this one keeps us all hygienically prepared and all IN SONE FORM OF A BUBBLE!! I know I finally told my daughters “if you choose to keep going out maybe you should consider putting up a tent in the backyard instead and DON’T COME IN HERE!!”. Everytime some leaves and comes back do we have to RE-START “SELF ISOLATION”? Thank you Phylis and please take care of yourself and have a VERY GOOD DAY TODAY 😊🙏🏼🦅😘💕

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 28, 2020 @ 11:18 AM

  17. I had to laugh because my little crew were all trying to stay sane with EACHOTHER, and all I could do was try and think of ways to get everyone busy having fun!! So if we have to keep our distance and be stuck together there’s no better time to GO FLY KITES TOGETHER!! 😃😃 then learn to fly “remote controlled helicopters”, play ball (lol with a sponge bat and sponge ball), frisbees, go fishing, horse back riding, hiking all while keeping our distance from one another 😃😃😃😃😃😃😃

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 28, 2020 @ 12:27 AM

    • Hi, Fits in the evening are called ‘. Postprandial attacks. Commonly 2~3hrs. After an evening meal, due to rebound low blood sugar, and changes inside the cells in the brain chemicals. If you find that in your case, arrange your medication to cover that sort of time, and you will see an improvement. Worked for me. Keep a diary of times of attacks, and notice a distinct result by doing this. Dr. PSC.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Peter Cameron — March 28, 2020 @ 12:56 PM

  18. The perfumes is BS cause there’s a natural technique to help get rid of seizures using perfumes & other items through sense of smell.


    Comment by Jessica — March 28, 2020 @ 11:54 AM

  19. Phylis,
    In your comment to Douglas about Triggers, in June 2007, I got to where a pack of cigarettes was lasting me 3 days.
    I said to myself, “If I can make a pack last 3 days, I can lay these things down.”
    That’s when I got my Neurologist involved, & it was a tough fight for the first 3 months.
    The next month in October, I went to my Dad’s House mainly for his big 70 party before Thanksgiving, but was there between mid October to Mid December.
    During this 45-60 day period, due to nicotine detox, withdrawals sent me into seizures averaging about 1-2 a day.

    I don’t think I could have done this with a non-smoker helping me with my goal, & cause of all the seizures during the detox, they gave me more of an incentive NOT to pick them back up.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by epilepsy67 — March 28, 2020 @ 6:20 PM

  20. You missed alcoholic beverages.
    Alcoholic beverages can kill or lower the levels of some anti seizure medications in the blood stream.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jeanine Bunt — March 28, 2020 @ 6:52 PM

    • Ooops. Sorry, that was in my article: Common Epilepsy Triggers



      There are two questions that have to be considered when the question of alcohol use and epilepsy comes up. One is the effect that alcohol could have on the medicines used to control seizures. Alcohol can be dangerous when mixed with sedative drugs and can cause coma, or even death. The other question is whether the alcohol itself will cause seizures.

      Large amounts of alcohol are thought to raise the risk of seizures and may even cause them. When you drink alcohol, it may temporarily reduce seizures for a few hours, but then increases the chances of a seizure as the alcohol leaves your body.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 28, 2020 @ 9:43 PM

  21. Thank you Peter I never thought of that before. Odd how I take medication almost all day (mostly vitamins and minerals) and that never crosses my mind. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 29, 2020 @ 12:18 PM

  22. Lol as for alcohol we don’t drink. In fact we still have our champagne from our “LEGAL WEDDING” 25 years ago this July 29 th. Lol BTW somehow we became the “TAXI SERVICE” for those who attended our wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 29, 2020 @ 12:22 PM

  23. I live near the “Rocky Mountains” and my family’s ranch is pretty much at the foot of the Waterton, Alberta Park near the northern Montana USA and Southern Alberta, Canada Boarder. I however live in a town about 45 minutes to 1 hour north of our family farm. Funny how “ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE, WIND (lol it’s “Southern Alberta” when do WE NOT HAVE WIND!!) and 4 SEASONS IN A DAY HERE I NEVER EVER THOUGHT OF “ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE” BEFORE!!!!! Thank you Phylis 🙏🏼🦅😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 29, 2020 @ 12:30 PM

  24. It took me seven years of no driving to sort of “put two and two together” and “connect the dots!” My triggers are too much caffeine and too much aspartame too close to morning meds and too late in the day. Both substances kept me awake. Sleep deprivation. Flashing or strobe lights(no more concerts or even movies for me); loud noises; stress; getting over-heated(med levels go down via perspiration; Seizure free since late November of 2000 since learning these triggers. As is so often stated, “Individual results will vary.’ Hope this helps someone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Lance — April 2, 2020 @ 11:01 AM

  25. Anybody else finding Zoom meetings a problem? All those multiple flickery images. Using it hasn’t actually produced a seizure, but there’s a “Look out, don’t go there!” feeling, and I sign out.

    This presents a dilemma – I don’t want to explain to all those people, or even to the leader, why I don’t want to participate in a “fun” activity. Very old-fashioned of me. So few people know I fall into this disability category.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — April 29, 2020 @ 1:50 PM

    • For me, “Zoom” is a crap shoot. I even have trouble logging on. And it’s not a “fun” activity.

      I do it only for meetings and personally prefer one-on-one individual Facetime. It’s more personal and less confusing.

      But, if it’s multiple people, as in a meeting, I try to just suck it up and focus.

      Also, I find that if I slowly move the screen from right to left, it assuages some of the visual confusion.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 29, 2020 @ 1:58 PM

  26. Before my temporal lobectomy in 1989 the very end of Phil Collins song Take Me Home would trigger a seizure.
    I now think that I have a habit of taking shallow breaths for a period of time and dont realize it and that causes a seizure.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Chris LaFuze — November 24, 2020 @ 1:27 PM

  27. V8 vegetable juice because of its high sodium salt msg levels effect the blood in epileptics and cause seizures or charges for those fitted with a zapper device it’s best that you avoid the juice all together as it can cause hard breathing

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jess — November 22, 2021 @ 8:42 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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