Epilepsy Talk

Possible Causes of Epilepsy | October 10, 2020

While there are more than 40 different types of epilepsy, there are probably even more types of seizure disorders — caused by a number of internal and external events.

However, most doctors and publications agree on a number of possible or even probable reasons for these seizures. Here are just a few of them…

Hereditary Causes

Many types of epilepsy tend to run in families, and some have been traced to an abnormality in a specific gene. These genetic abnormalities can cause subtle changes in the way the body processes calcium, potassium, sodium, and other body chemicals.

Prenatal Injuries


It can be either an injury to the mother caused by childbirth, a congenital abnormality or perinatal injury.

Head Injury

If the head injury is severe, seizures may not begin until years later. If the injury is mild, the risk is slight.

Degenerative Diseases

A disease like cancer reduces the structure or function of tissues. Therefore tumors, whether malignant or benign, can be associated with seizures. The location of the lesion influences the risk.

Brain Conditions

Brain conditions that cause damage to the brain, such as brain tumors or strokes, can cause epilepsy. Stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy in adults older than age 35.

Metabolic Disturbances

Disorders that change levels of various metabolic substances in the body sometimes result in seizures. These include: altered levels of sodium, calcium, or magnesium (electrolyte imbalance)…kidney failure and dialysis…low blood sugar or elevated blood sugar…lowered oxygen level in the brain…severe liver disease…and elevation of associated toxins.

Infectious Diseases

Meningitis, AIDS and viral encephalitis, can cause epilepsy.


Probably the most common is food poisoning (typically from bacteria or parasites), but also dangerous are various heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic, mercury, etc.), gases such as carbon monoxide, alcohol poisoning, numerous household chemicals and many others.


It can be an interaction or reaction to a drug or combination of drugs, reaction or withdrawal (especially from certain anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs) or the chronic use of illicit drugs, particularly cocaine, heroine, amphetamines, and PCP.

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  1. Head injury might include, as in the case of a friend of mine, a bungled medical procedure. There was a settlement, of course, but beyond that, only Keppra, which seems not to be working. No support, no psychotherapy, no information, . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — October 10, 2020 @ 11:26 AM

  2. My friend had botched brain surgery. She was in rehab for a year and came out only to be able to toilet herself and say the word “dog”.

    It took her five years to recover. She still has seizures from time to time. It’s a tragedy.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 10, 2020 @ 12:50 PM

    • What happened to your friends are unforgivable crimes & very, very sad outcome to the desperate search for remedy to lesser medical hardship.
      Your friends are some of the main good reasons, I’ve been avoiding having brain surgery to contemplate searching for cure to my seizures in surgical operating room.
      I would rather keep my seizures than having to totally risk losing my mind for incompetent “brain surgeons” & end up deprived from phsycological, medical & social support I garnered for many years.
      I hope the same “brain surgeons” are NOT still in the same business, inflicting more damage to more uninformed people.
      To prevent more botched brain surgeries it would have been great to have national database for reference listing all the brain surgeons who had been involved in causing more damage to unsuspecting patients in desperate need of medical remedy for their epilepsy.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — October 11, 2020 @ 5:11 PM

  3. I always felt one of three things could be my cause: weighing 12 lbs. 9 oz. at birth, being pushed down a flight of stairs when I was two or a 105 fever when I was three. From my surgery and the fact they could look at the brain, I found the cause was the fever.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ed Lugge — October 10, 2020 @ 2:21 PM

  4. Wow Ed. That was quite a menu. But happily, they finally found the cause.

    And FIXED it!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 10, 2020 @ 2:25 PM

    • But you know the funny part is finding out the cause didn’t do anything to fix it…but it put me at ease. I guess if you wait 40 years for the answer to a question, you’re just glad it isn’t a question anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Ed Lugge — October 10, 2020 @ 2:47 PM

      • For me, too, finding out the cause – even though it is just a good guess – is a relief. It removes the blame from possible perps. It undoes the guilt of being told as a child (and adult) that I was a bad person.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — October 10, 2020 @ 2:52 PM

      • Amen brother!!……. Amen!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 5:47 PM

  5. They STILL dont know why I have mine…… and the only thing I can relate anything to is my episode with the worst case of Mono that my Dr had EVER seen…….. in which I had a fever of over 106, and 108 on two different nights……… I wish you would have discussed more than just “prenatal” issues…..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 4:08 PM

    • What questions do you have Aaron?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 10, 2020 @ 4:10 PM

    • Sorry, I shoulda posted the last reply here…. my bad 😀 Thank you for replying to me Phyllis, I love your work and the passion you have for helping folks figure this incredibly difficult issue, out 😀 If I start talking now, I wont be able to stop…… but THANK YOU, and I will be contacting you soon! I hope you are safe, happy and healthy 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 5:00 PM

      • Hi Phyllis, yes, basically what I was getting at in regards to my initial post, was that you wrote your article and from what I could see, it started with
        “Hereditary” or genetics…. and then went into “Prenatal” causes……. I didn’t start having my seizures until I was 30 years old, no prior history, no family issues…… and the Docs still don’t know why I’m having them! They just say, “anxiety and stress”…… what I guess I would have liked to see from your article, were concepts that could bring on adult epilepsy and seizure disorders that begin in adulthood…… that could be specifically derived from injuries or illnesses that might have occurred in childhood 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 5:05 PM

      • Aaron, let me start by saying that one third of all forms of epilepsy are known as idiopathic generalized seizures. That’s a fancy way of saying, they haven’t got a clue.

        But here are some articles that may interest you:

        Epilepsy, Anxiety and Depression https://epilepsytalk.com/2019/08/03/epilepsy-anxiety-and-depression/

        Some Stress and Anxiety Solutions… https://epilepsytalk.com/2020/03/21/some-stress-and-anxiety-solutions/

        Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.com/2019/02/16/traumatic-brain-injury-and-epilepsy-2/

        Wounds That Time Won’t Heal — Childhood Abuse and Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.wordpress.com/?p=12469&preview=true

        I hope these help. If not, sing out and I’ll give you more to read.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 10, 2020 @ 5:52 PM

      • Thank you Phyllis!! Youve always been awesome and I could expect nothing less! I appreciate your resources and being so active in regards to not just my simple post, but everyone who needs your help with this most amazingly difficult of disorders!!……. THANK YOU PHYLLIS!!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 6:04 PM

  6. Hi Phyllis, firstly I shoulda included my LOVE for your work and diligence in following through with creating an amazing database of issues regarding an incredibly difficult issue that is much more prevalent than most people understand 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 10, 2020 @ 4:57 PM

  7. THANK YOU, Aaron!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 10, 2020 @ 5:00 PM

  8. Has jaundice as a newborn ever been related to epilepsy?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jamie Hensley — October 10, 2020 @ 5:02 PM

  9. whats the use of living with epilepsy? we cannot enjoy life, we cannot go out much? Why the doctors cannot find a cure? at the age of 11 I had a brain injury and than at the age of 20 start with epilepsy. tried many pills in Australia, had a few surgeries and still life is not that good. Better off just giving up, dead.
    Any new pills in the USA THAT you can send/get in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Richard Degrassi — October 11, 2020 @ 5:23 AM

    • Enjoyment of life is arguably a choice we make, not an edict handed down. Is I can help you make that choice, I will.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — October 11, 2020 @ 8:04 AM

    • Richard, don’t even consider dying. I tried it once and it wasn’t pretty. Three days in intensive care, five days in the hospital, then two weeks in rehab.

      There are people who love you..even if you don’t love yourself right now.

      Maybe this article will cheer you:

      Hope for Drug Resistant Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.com/2020/10/06/__trashed-6/


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2020 @ 10:24 AM

      • OK, my turn. Life with epilepsy is always going to test your physical and mental strength and the idea of taking the easy way out after all the work and sacrifices we go through doesn’t succeed is understandable. But with suicide, you just might prevent something that can and will help you?

        My two most supportive family members (my sister and mother) died 15 months apart while I was in high school. Did I want to commit suicide? Yes, but I felt it was a mistake and not fair to the rest of my family.

        My cousin has epilepsy and it was worse for her so I set her up for surgery, walked her through it, saw a brief improvement then saw everything go downhill for her. I lost a lot of confidence in how I was ever going to get any help for myself.

        That made me wait too long to do something but when I came close to killing myself in a car accident, I finally decided to have surgery because I’m lucky to be alive anyway. The surgery worked for me but what I’m saying is no matter how many setbacks you face, you can’t give up. Be as mad at the world as you want but don’t let it defeat you.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Ed Lugge — October 11, 2020 @ 3:09 PM

    • Richard, life deals us hands that are sometimes very unfair. So tempting to toss the cards away. I’m hoping you can muster the energy and wit to say, “Wait! Maybe there’s still a way to play this, to beat the odds.”

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — October 12, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

  10. IF I can help you make that choice, not “is”. IF I can learn to read my posts before submitting them, it will be a step toward clarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — October 11, 2020 @ 9:17 AM

  11. Wow!! Richard!! If there was ever a day to respond, I guess yesterday was it! I grew up a 5 STAR pitcher, college walk on, published author when I was 26!….. then rolled outta bed 6weeks after my 30th birthday having a grandmal and seized for over 13hrs STRAIGHT!!…… life changes! Makes its moves and rolls the water around the rocks!! As the great Bruce Lee once said, be like the nature of Water!! There is ALWAYS a better day than today 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Aaron Holmes — October 11, 2020 @ 12:42 PM

    • And Aaron, you’re living proof of that.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2020 @ 12:46 PM

    • Wow Aron,,, Brilliant analogy!
      You got more inspiring practical meaning to life than many of us expect & are entitled for.
      I can see where the water is streaming, adjusting to the facts on the ground where many of us are having hard time to bear.
      Thank you for sharing your different outlook to life than the traditional custom we’ve been thought to carry on.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — October 12, 2020 @ 2:56 PM

  12. The Neurologist my employer sent me to visit for the first time im my life noticing that I was having hard time to believe & accept that I’m suffering from epilepsy asks me, “Our brains are like eggs. What happens if you put an egg in the oven”?
    Obviously, the message was clear that the egg will explode inside the oven.
    Therefore, in my case I learned that traumatic head injury in an accident in adults age & exposed to high frequency radio manufacturing industry for a long time & for many years in the production area of my work became great mixture to the obvious cause to my seizures.
    Therefore, even though the search for answer to the complicated question to find out “Why am I having seizures in adult age?” has never left my mind, but the difficulty of finding control over my seizures & having to cope with the radical ramifications in life with epilepsy has been a whole lot harder than searching for answers to the cause of my seizures.
    Let’s hope we will find cure to the brain disorder more than searching for answers to the cause of the complicated question.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Gerrie — October 11, 2020 @ 4:01 PM

  13. I read your list of how some epilepsy cases happen. I didn’t see my epilepsy, in the list. I was born healthy. Within a day, I stopped breathing. That caused epilepsy to form in my brain. I’m 62 years older now. I still can’t do some things, because of how my seizures still happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by whittemore1958 — October 11, 2020 @ 4:57 PM

    • I would think that the lack of oxygen to your brain would have caused to seizures to begin.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2020 @ 8:36 PM

      • My epilepsy was caused by Postnatal. That was not added to this list. You showed Prenatal, but didn’t show Postnatal.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by whittemore1958 — October 11, 2020 @ 9:05 PM

      • I’m so sorry for the omission. So many things can happen postnatal that it’s hard to pin down just a few causes…


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2020 @ 9:42 PM

    • But why did you stop breathing?
      Did you had any underlining cause to stop your lungs from operating properly, beyond the suffocating struggle to breath normally just like I feel during my grand mal seizures?
      In my case, I wasn’t born with epilepsy nor did I had been connected to epilepsy for most of my life.
      But when I started having seizures in the middle of my life due to traumatic brain injury & employment environment, my heart started racing over the speed limit & I feel suffocated desperately trying to breath before I end up unconscious, stumbling & shaking on bed or on the ground, blacking out to complete the cycle of the whole incident.
      Normally, I’ve no problem breathing neither lung disorder to indicate shortness of breath.
      But during my seizures, shortness of breath is the first primary indication, warning to my imminent grand mal seizures.
      I wish there was some personal devices to fit my pocket to counter the shortness of breath to reverse the seizure in progress, like Azema patients carry around everywhere.
      I wonder if I should try one of their devices to counter the progress to my seizures?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — October 12, 2020 @ 12:39 AM

      • I don’t know if there are any preventive measures you can carry in your pocket, but there are always Smart Watches.

        3 Revolutionary Epilepsy Watches! https://epilepsytalk.com/2018/09/13/3-revolutionary-epilepsy-monitors/

        But, like the other monitoring devices, they’re all interactive and send out signals to a third party.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 12, 2020 @ 9:30 AM

      • I still have seizures. sometimes, I don’t feel them coming to me. but usually, I do feel it coming. Starting a few years ago, I decided to carry Cinnamon essential oil with me no matter where I go. Anytime that I feel a seizure coming to me. I breathe that into my nose. The seizure goes away before it starts.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by whittemore1958 — October 12, 2020 @ 8:34 PM

      • It’s good to know that the smell of cinnamon can be effective in disrupting the auras leading to seizures, avoiding the traumatic incident.
        You seem to know better than the medical industry who still can’t figure it out how to disrupt the incoming seizure in progress.
        It would be very interesting to know that what the experts have to say about to your creative mechanism to disrupt the auras before the epileptic knockout.
        I would think with all the advanced technology we come to witness in the last 100 years, we should have been able to make electronic devices to disrupt the incoming seizure in progress like the DIABETES carry inhalers to fight shortness of breath.
        Let’s hope some creative minds are working on the idea of applying your cinnamon & inhalers to defuse the epileptic strikes & make it available for the general public to benefit from.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Gerrie — October 12, 2020 @ 11:02 PM

      • An article that may be of interest:

        Natural Herbal Remedies for Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.com/2020/02/15/natural-herbal-remedies-for-epilepsy/


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 13, 2020 @ 9:58 AM

      • I’ve been adding cinnamon to my morning coffee for years.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — October 13, 2020 @ 10:55 AM

      • It’s impressive to know that the ancient traditional healers got better idea on how to take advantage of their herbal medicine to defuse the neurological storm provoking epileptic seizures more than the most advanced generation of human race & medical science.
        Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s time for me to try & find out for myself if cinnamon/herbal medicine is effective remedy in defusing my auras & disrupting my seizures.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Gerrie — October 13, 2020 @ 1:09 PM

  14. My condition, which is currently not being called epilepsy but dysrhythmia, was caused, I think, by my mother taking diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriage. This drug was on the market in the U.S. from 1938 until 1971, when it was withdrawn because it caused cancers in daughters. It also caused temporal lobe scarring in some people, possibly including me. No one is still alive who could verify the connection, but family patterns tend to confirm it.

    DES is still available for humans in some other countries. It has many effects on offspring besides cancer and temporal lobe scarring, including leg deformities in boys.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — October 12, 2020 @ 12:01 PM

    • DES can also cause infertility, which I guess is the flip side of miscarriage?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 12, 2020 @ 12:32 PM

    • It’s good that DES has been marked for potential cause of various health risks & medical hardships for the whole world to know & removed from the market before more people could have been unknowingly harmed by the product.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — October 12, 2020 @ 3:35 PM

  15. DES use by my mother was something never suggested to me as a potential cause of my epilepsy. What led your Neurologist to even ask about it, HoDo? Wow , it would certainly make more sense if she had.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by skolly9 — October 12, 2020 @ 11:06 PM

    • No doctor or neurologist ever suggested or asked about DES. A book I was reading about temporal lobe epilepsy listed DES as a cause.

      No, I thought, wrong time frame. But, curious, I looked it up online. There it all is: the time line that fits, my sister’s cancer, patterns of disability in the next generation, etc. Our mother had difficulty carrying to term. She would have been up for such a medication.

      I am in the process of enlightening those of my doctors who might need to know. Telling family members that there may be birth defects in the next generation is harder. And, yes, it does go through to the grandchildren.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — October 13, 2020 @ 7:57 AM

      • Great job HoDo, Deeply researching the root cause of our medical hardships & educating our “educated doctors” & the general public for what to look for in examining/diagnosing the root cause of our neurological disorders & potential risks to many more of our offsprings.
        DES may have been & still is causing a whole lot of birth defects more than we had known before.
        Therefore, the hospital industry should be made aware of many of the birth defects many unsuspecting mothers had been exposed too to prevent it.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Gerrie — October 13, 2020 @ 12:14 PM

      • Being able to say to a doctor, “An article by XYZ on the National Institutes of Health website states that . . . “ gets me her attention if not necessarily better treatment, even if I’m very careful about my tone of voice.

        A while back, I read that educated people actually get less help from the medical profession. More studies are needed.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — October 13, 2020 @ 2:06 PM

  16. I have always asked Neurologists the “I wonder if ” question, re: what may have caused my seizures. Some have followed through with further tests, others not. I find it very unnerving to have Idiopathic epilepsy. Its like someone asking “what’s for dinner”, and the answer is “food”. Should I be excited because it’s something I like, or concerned that it”s something I hate? No handle on how to anticipate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by skolly9 — October 13, 2020 @ 9:09 PM

    • While epilepsy may have been recognized as general neurological disorder, getting the attention of the Nuerologists to comprehend & follow up on the complicated fine prints of the seizures gets to be another ordeal to overcome, driving the patient’s dire needs for an answer on how to stop or control the seizures, making epilepsy lifetime struggle to carry on.
      Therefore, accepting there’s no quick remedy to cure the neurological disorder may help us understand & live with the ramifications of the medical hardship.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — October 14, 2020 @ 12:41 AM

  17. My second youngest grandson has had some seizures, so I appreciate an article like this that explains things. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Geri Lawhon — November 27, 2020 @ 12:08 PM

    • We’re always here to assist you in some way or another.

      If you don’t immediately find what you’re looking for, try the “Search” bar.

      And if you’d like to to subscribe to Epilepsy Talk and get the latest articles, simply go to the bottom box of the right column, enter your email address and click on “Follow.”

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 27, 2020 @ 2:41 PM

    • This is a good place to find answers, to ask questions, and, most of all, to realize you aren’t alone in this. Welcome!

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by HoDo — November 27, 2020 @ 2:54 PM

  18. P.S. Geri, here is an article that you might find helpful:

    Epilepsy Glossary — 100+ Terms Defined



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 27, 2020 @ 2:45 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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