What Causes Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by seizures, which can range from mild to severe. While there are several types of epilepsy and many treatments available, it can be difficult to determine the cause of this condition in some cases. Let’s take a look at what causes epilepsy and how it is diagnosed.
Genetics and Brain Injury
One of the most common causes of epilepsy is genetic factors—in other words, if an immediate family member has epilepsy, you may be more likely to develop it as well. According to studies, approximately 3-7% of all epilepsy cases are caused by genetic factors. Additionally, brain injuries or trauma (such as those suffered in a car accident) can also lead to the development of seizures. This type of trauma often damages certain areas of the brain, making them more susceptible to seizures.
Aside from genetics and brain injury, there are other potential causes for epilepsy such as infections, structural lesions in the brain (such as tumors), strokes or other conditions that disrupt blood flow to the brain, metabolic disorders (such as diabetes), and drug abuse (including alcohol withdrawal). In some cases, doctors may not be able to determine what caused a person’s epilepsy; this is known as “idiopathic” or “cryptogenic” epilepsy.
If your doctor suspects that you may have epilepsy, they will begin by performing a thorough physical exam and review your medical history in order to rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms. Depending on your specific situation, they may also order additional tests such MRI scans or EEGs (electroencephalograms) which measure electrical activity in the brain and can help confirm a diagnosis. If you have had more than one seizure episode, your doctor will likely diagnose you with epilepsy even if they cannot pinpoint an exact cause for your condition.
The causes of epilepsy vary from person to person; some cases are determined by genetics while others can be attributed to traumatic brain injury or even drug/alcohol use. In some cases—known as idiopathic or cryptogenic epilepsy—it is impossible for doctors to identify what caused a person’s seizure episodes. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available for those living with this condition; these treatments range from lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise to medications that reduce seizure frequency. Knowing the cause behind your seizures can help you make informed decisions regarding treatment options so it’s important that you discuss this with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with this condition. If you suspect that you may have epilepsy but haven’t yet been diagnosed with it, make sure you seek help right away.
The neurologists at THE BRAIN CENTER are specially trained in the care and treatment of Epilepsy. To learn more information about how our neurology team can help with your diagnosis and treatment, call us at our office at: (786) 565-8735