Epilepsy can result from a birth defect, birth or head injury, brain tumour, or an infection in the brain. It can also be inherited. But for many people with epilepsy, a cause cannot be found. Epilepsy is not contagious.
Epilepsy can occur for the first time at any age.
Some seizures, particularly those in generalized epilepsy, are a result of a complicated genetic inheritance. Others, mainly in focal or partial epilepsy, are caused by some process that interferes with the normal function of one or more parts of the brain. Sometimes the cause for seizures cannot be found.
You don’t have to be diagnosed with epilepsy to have a seizure (epilepsy implies that you are having recurring seizures). Seizures not associated with epilepsy include those triggered by:
- High or low blood sugar
- Electrolyte imbalance, and
- Drug or alcohol withdrawal
Some causes of seizures in epilepsy include:
- Head injury
- Brain infection
- Abnormal brain development before birth
If you have epilepsy, the following may trigger a seizure:
- illness or fever
- flashing patterns or bright lights
- getting overtired
- alcohol or drug use
- sleep or on awakening
- hormone changes
- low blood sugar or poor diet
- specific foods or medications