Dr. Ansu Sen

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Dr. Ansu Sen

Consultant - Neurology

Manipal Hospitals, Salt Lake

What Causes Epilepsy? All The Triggering Factors And Their Nuances In Details

Reviewed by:

Dr. Ansu Sen

Posted On: Apr 24, 2023

blogs read 4 Min Read

Neuroscience Hospital in Kolkata

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system which is characterised by abnormal brain activity, resulting in seizures or episodes of strange behaviour, sensations, and occasionally loss of consciousness. Epilepsy can affect anyone. Men and women of all racial, ethnic, and age groups can develop epilepsy.

Epilepsy causes seizures which are the result of uncontrolled electrical activity within the brain cells. Such uncontrolled electrical activity can occur in different regions of the brain. Seizures are characterised by changes in awareness, muscle control (the muscles may twitch or jerk), sensations, emotions, and behaviour.

Hence, the symptoms of a seizure may vary greatly per the individual. It has been observed that some people with epilepsy simply stare blankly for a few seconds, while others constantly jerk their arms and legs. The diagnosis of epilepsy is not dependent upon only a single seizure. It is important to have at least two unprovoked seizures that occur at least 24 hours apart for an epilepsy diagnosis. In this blog we will discuss all the factors in details that trigger epilepsy. It is advisable to seek medical attention at a neuroscience hospital in kolkata if you experience anything similar.

What are Seizures?

Seizures are an abrupt spike in electrical activity between the brain cells that spreads to the nearby regions of the brain resulting in an uncontrollable burst of electrical activity. These electrical impulses show transmission towards the muscle that results in jerks, convulsions, stiffness, or limpness. Also, it results in changing their behaviour, movements, and feelings by affecting their level of consciousness among them. Hence, seizures are most often associated with epilepsy.

Types of Seizures

There are commonly two types of seizures:

  • Focal seizures: These are considered to be one of the causes of trauma, stroke, or meningitis. It is also known as partial seizures as they develop in a single region of the brain. Individuals who experience focal seizures may either lose consciousness or remain conscious as they experience them. 

  • Generalized onset seizures: These most often affect the entire parts of the brain. Its severity depends upon the individual while ranging from a brief, sudden lapse in attention to muscle stiffness that limits their movement to a loss of consciousness and shaking of the body.

Cause of Epilepsy

The cause of epilepsy is still not known in almost half of the epilepsy cases as per the reports of the World Health Organization (WHO). The cause may vary as per the individual. Healthcare providers have linked the cause of epilepsy with genetics, brain trauma, autoimmune diseases, metabolic issues, and infectious diseases. The symptoms, causes, and treatment availability varies as per the causes among different individuals. Some of the known causes have been illustrated below:

  • Genetics

Some common type of epilepsy such as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and childhood absence epilepsy have been found to run in families and is considered to be inherited. It has been found that some specific genes are responsible for causing epilepsy as these genes increase the risk of epilepsy along with the involvement of some other factors. Some epilepsy has been caused as the result of abnormalities within the brain cells that affects the functioning of the brain cells causing abnormal brain signals and seizures.

  • Mesial Temporal Sclerosis

It is the type of scar that develops within the inner temporal lobe (a region of the brain located next to the ear) causing focal seizures.

  • Head Injuries

Accidents from vehicles, any type of other falls and any head blow result in head injuries.

  • Brain Infections

Some the brain infections such as brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis, and neurocysticercosis increases the risk of developing epilepsy.

  • Immune Diseases

The immune system attacks the brain cells resulting in the occurrence of autoimmune diseases that causes epilepsy.

  • Developmental Disorders

Birth defects affecting the brain are a common cause of epilepsy, especially when anti-seizure drugs are unable to manage a person's seizures. Focal cortical dysplasia, polymicrogyria, and tuberous sclerosis are a few birth abnormalities linked to epilepsy. Numerous different brain abnormalities are identified as the cause of epilepsy.

  • Metabolic Disorders

Epilepsy may occur in individuals who have metabolic disorders, affecting the body’s function of obtaining energy. Genetic testing is advised by healthcare providers for diagnosing epilepsy in these cases.

  • Brain Conditions and Brain Vessel Abnormalities

Brain health-related issues such as brain tumours, strokes, dementia, and abnormal blood vessels may cause epilepsy.

  • Prenatal Injury

Infants and babies are very prone to the risk of brain injury which is caused by different factors including mother’s infection, poor nutrition, and oxygen deficiencies. Hence, it may result in epilepsy.

  • Excessive or low blood sugar levels and other biochemical imbalances in the body may also cause epilepsy.

The best neurologist in Kolkata has listed some of the major factors according to individual age group, that trigger epilepsy. The causes of epilepsy for each individual are different. Some of them have been discussed below:

  • The Causes of Epilepsy for New-borns:

    • Abnormality in the brain (Changes in the brain structure)

    • Oxygen deficiency during birth.

    • Decreasing levels of blood sugar, calcium, blood magnesium, and other related problems with electrolytes.

    • Issues with baby’s metabolism with what the baby is born.

    • Bleeding in the brain

    • Use of certain drugs by the mother during pregnancy.

  • The Causes for Epilepsy in Infants and Children

    • High fever (occurrence of seizures due to fever)

    • Infections

    • Brain tumour

  • The Causes that Trigger Epilepsy in Children and Adults

    • Development of congenital conditions (conditions with which the individual is born) involving Down’s syndrome, Angelman’s syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and neurofibromatosis.

    • Presence of genetic factors

    • Head injury

    • Chronic brain disease

  • Older Adults:

    • Stroke

    • Alzheimer’s disease

    • Head injury


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