Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in about half of those with the condition. In about half the people with epilepsy, the condition may be traced to various factors.
May. 31, 2013
Genetic influence. Some types of epilepsy, which are categorized by the type of seizure you experience, run in families. In these cases, it's likely that there's a genetic influence.
Researchers have linked some types of epilepsy to specific genes, though it's estimated that up to 500 genes could be tied to the condition. For most people, genes are only part of the cause of epilepsy. Certain genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.
- Head trauma. Head trauma that occurs due to a car accident or other traumatic injury can cause epilepsy.
- Brain conditions. Brain conditions that result in damage to the brain, such as brain tumors or strokes, also can cause epilepsy. Stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy in adults older than age 35.
- Infectious diseases. Infectious diseases, such as meningitis, AIDS and viral encephalitis, can cause epilepsy.
- 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.
- Developmental disorders. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.
- Seizures and epilepsy: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/detail_epilepsy.htm. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Schachter SC. Evaluation of the first seizure in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Is an emergency room visit needed? Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/firstaid/is-an-emergency-room-visit-needed.cfm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2013.
- Injuries from seizures. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/healthrisks/injuriesfromseizures.cfm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2013.
- Fact sheet on seizure-related causes of death and preventative measures. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/resources/newsroom/pressreleases/Fact-Sheet-on-Seizure-Related-Causes-of-Death-and-Preventative-Measures.cfm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2013.
- Schachter SC. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/faq.cfm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2013.
- Hirsch LJ, et al. Neuroimaging in the evaluation of seizures and epilepsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Karceski S. Initial treatment of epilepsy in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Schachter SC. Overview of the management of epilepsy in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
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- U.S. News best hospitals 2012-2013. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Accessed Jan. 25, 2013.
- First responders. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/livingwithepilepsy/firstresponders/. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Staying healthy. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/livingwithepilepsy/healthandwellness/stayinghealthy/index.cfm. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Transportation. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/livingwithepilepsy/parentsandcaregivers/caregivers/transportation.cfm. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- First aid. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/firstaid/index.cfm. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Finding employment. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/livingwithepilepsy/employmenttopics/findingemployment.cfm. Accessed Feb. 4, 2013.
- Romanelli P, et al. Non-resective surgery and radiosurgery for treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy Research. 2012;99:193.
- Worrell GA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 29, 2013.
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