Causes of Epilepsy
We now know that epilepsy is due to disturbed brain function. But what brings about these changes?
There are different causes for seizures or fits. These vary from person to person.
In several cases, no trigger is detected. Some seizures are idiopathic, in other words the cause of the seizure can not be identified. Such seizures are more common among the young, aged between 5 - 20 years. These individuals have no other neurological complaints, but often have a family history.
Sometimes seizures are related to a temporary condition, often arising as result of exposure to or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, or as a result of abnormal levels of lood sodium or glucose. In these cases the seizures subside once the underlying problem is addressed.
Some of the important causes of epilepsy are listed below-
• Developmental problems or congenital problems areknown to cause epilepsy.
• Prenatal or neonatal injuries may also be the causative factors.
• Injury to the brain, such as a head injury, excites the brain tissue abnormally . Seizures commence within 2 years of the injury; this is commonly observed in young adults.
• Disorders, such as stroke or TLA, that affects the blood vessels, are the most common reasons for seizures in the elderly.
• Degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease may also bring about seizures.
• Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy can also induce an epileptic attack.
• Complications related to HIV infection or other immune disorders may cause epilepsy.
• Tumors and brain lesions give rise to partial or focal seizures that may evolve to more serious types.More common after 30 years.
• Infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, neurosyphylis, or brain abscess may cause seizures.This may be reversed once the infection is cured.
• Infection with tapeworm – sometimes the egg of the pork tapeworm can get lodged in a portion of the brain and can be the cause of epileptic fits.
• Metabolic abnormalities may cause epilepsy in people of any age. Some of these illnesses are listed below-
Sensory stimuli such as Lights, sounds and touch are also capable of triggering convulsions. The ‘seizure threshold’ or the amount of stimulation that can trigger a seizure is low in several people who are epileptic.
Lack of sleep, taking or skipping certain doses of medicines can also start the seizures in an individual whose seizures are under control.