Seizure Triggers

POSSIBLE SEIZURE TRIGGERS

A possible ‘seizure trigger’ is something which can make you more likely to have a seizure, particularly if you already have a tendency to have seizures. The term ‘seizure trigger’ does not mean something that could cause you to develop epilepsy in the first place.   Everyone is born with a ‘seizure threshold’. If you have a high seizure threshold, it means that you are less likely to have seizures than someone with a low seizure threshold. 

Epilepsy affects each person differently. The following is just a guide to some common seizure triggers. You may not feel that you have any particular seizure triggers. Or you may feel you have triggers which are not mentioned here. You may wish to discuss this with your doctor or epilepsy specialist. Keeping a seizure diary can be a good way of identifying possible seizure triggers.  Epilepsy Wales can provide these free of charge. 

Alcohol and recreational drugs   

Excess alcohol or binge drinking can trigger seizures, even if you do not have epilepsy. Taking certain recreational drugs, for example cocaine, can also make you more likely to have a seizure. 

Late nights & lack of sleep  

Late nights, going without sleep and irregular sleep patterns can be possible seizure triggers. 

Stress  

You might find that you have more seizures during or after periods of anxiety or stress. 

Missing doses of anti-epileptic medication 

If you miss a dose of your anti-epileptic drugs, or take them later than usual, this may trigger a seizure. 

Flickering or flashing light  

If you have photosensitive epilepsy, certain types of flickering or flashing light may be a seizure trigger for you. 

Fewer than one in 20 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy, so for most people with epilepsy, flickering or flashing lights are not a seizure trigger.  A test for photosensitivity will have been done when you had an EEG. 

Illness  

Having a high temperature (fever) can sometimes trigger seizures in young children if they are ill. This is less likely in adults, although generally being unwell can reduce your seizure threshold, and make you more likely to have a seizure. 

Hormones  

For some women, certain hormones seem to trigger seizures at particular times in their menstrual cycle. This is known as catamenial epilepsy. 

If you are going through the menopause, you may find that the hormonal changes at this time may make you more likely to have seizures, (although for some women, seizures will not be affected or may become less frequent). 

Food 

There is no evidence to suggest that certain foods can trigger seizures. Diet is not generally thought to have an effect on seizure control, except that skipping meals can make a person more likely to have a seizure. 

Certain medications and supplements  

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can make you more likely to have a seizure, if you have epilepsy or a history of seizures. For example, anti-depressants and antihistamines can be possible seizure triggers. 

Certain supplements, for example evening primrose oil, can also be possible seizure triggers.  It is always important to seek medical advice before starting any kind of treatment. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist to check if there are any cautions for people with epilepsy taking the medication or supplement. 

With thanks to the Epilepsy Action web site for this information

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