Is there any connection between multiple sclerosis and epilepsy?
Answer From B Mark Keegan, M.D.
Epileptic seizures are more common in people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) than in those who don't have MS. While it's estimated that less than 3 percent of people without MS have seizures, about 2 to 5 percent of people with MS are thought to have active seizures.
Exactly why these seizures occur more often in people with MS isn't completely understood. MS lesions in certain areas of the brain might trigger these seizures. However, lesions are very common in MS, and seizures are unusual, so there are probably other factors that play a role in seizures, too.
Seizures may be the first noticeable sign of MS before diagnosis. Seizures can also occur during times when MS symptoms flare up. In some cases, seizures might be the only sign of an MS flare. But, the majority of seizures occur unrelated to MS relapses, and the occurrence of a seizure soon before diagnosis of MS may just be a chance occurrence.
Most seizures can be controlled with anti-seizure medication.
July 08, 2020
See more Expert Answers
- Lapato AS, et al. Chronic demyelination-induced seizures. Neuroscience. 2017;346:409.
- Olek MJ, et al. Symptom management of multiple sclerosis in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 10, 2018.
- Benjaminsen E, et al. The prevalence and characteristics of epilepsy in patients with multiple sclerosis in Nordland County, Norway. Seizure. 2017;52:131.
- Seizures. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Seizures. Accessed May 10, 2018.