What Causes Seizures: Your Guide to the Different Types of Triggers

Did you know that not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder diagnosed only if someone’s had two or more unprovoked seizures that take place more than 24 hours apart. Seizures often are comorbid in patients suffering from other disorders.

What should you look out for in people who suffer from seizures? And how can you avoid seizures even if you don’t have epilepsy?

Keep reading below for a guide that outlines what triggers seizures in those with and without epilepsy alike.

Brain Injuries

A hit to the head can trigger seizures. Traumatic brain injuries have shown to lead to the development of epilepsy, and approximately 6% of people with epilepsy developed the condition following a brain injury. According to personal injury lawyers, car accidents are the leading cause of TBIs.

Epilepsy due to brain injuries typically doesn’t appear overnight; instead, the seizures will appear months or years down the line. Strokes and concussions are common brain injuries that can lead to epileptic seizures.

Stress and Fatigue:

Many people with epilepsy work hard to get an adequate amount of sleep. Lack of sleep is detrimental to anyone, but it can be even more dangerous for those with epilepsy. Stress and fatigue are often linked, as it can be difficult to sleep enough if you’re under extreme stress.

Stress can also cause seizures if it manifests as anxiety. People who suffer from panic or anxiety attacks can fall victim to seizures if they start hyperventilating. Stress alone doesn’t usually cause seizures, but it can lead to other feelings and physical tolls that can induce a seizure.


For those who are treating epilepsy with medication, their medication may not interact well with alcohol. Some medications lower alcohol tolerance as well. It’s best to speak with a physician or pharmacist if you’re unsure about how a medication interacts with alcohol.

Those with alcohol addictions can suffer from seizures if they are in withdrawal. Drinking too much alcohol in someone’s body can also cause a seizure.

Seizures related to alcohol can be avoided by drinking in moderation. Often, if a seizure is to happen due to alcohol, it won’t happen while you are drinking. If you are concerned about having a seizure, be mindful of it a few hours after drinking because this is when it is more likely to occur.

Some recreational drugs can also trigger seizures in some. Cocaine is one recreational drug that should be avoided by anyone with epilepsy as it can immediately trigger a seizure; even people who don’t have epilepsy can have seizures due to cocaine use.

Medical marijuana has proven to help seizures in some while triggering them in others. It’s often sought after if traditional medication is not effective or undesired. The growing research on how cannabis reduces seizures has been very helpful for those who’ve struggled to find a medication that combats epilepsy.

Dehydration and Low Blood Sugar

If you’re in a dehydrated state, your body can struggle to keep your electrolytes in balance. Abnormal electrical messages can then lead to seizures. Dehydration is more commonly a trigger when paired with other complications.

Low blood sugar is a common trigger for seizures. These are known as hypoglycemia seizures, and they can happen in people with and without epilepsy alike. People with diabetes can be the victim of hypoglycemic seizures.

People will often feel dizzy or lightheaded due to low blood sugar before the seizure. Seizures triggered by low blood sugar can be avoided by ensuring you don’t skip meals and eat a well-balanced diet. If you take any medications to combat low blood sugar, it’s essential that you take them.

Assorted Illnesses

People with infections have been known to have seizures. This is often due to the fact that infections and illnesses often lead to fevers, which can trigger seizures. Various illnesses can also trigger seizures simply because the body is under stress, dehydrated, or more fatigued than normal.

Skipping Medication

Some people forget to take their medication or will intentionally forgo taking it. Not taking medication prescribed for seizures is one of the biggest triggers for seizures.

Even if other triggers are avoided, people with generalized epilepsy can have seizures if they don’t take their medication. They can also cause seizures to be more intense.

If medication is missed, it’s best to take it as soon as you remember. Don’t take more than what’s prescribed, however, as a double dose can also cause issues.

Photosensitivity: Flashing Lights

Photosensitive epilepsy is probably the most well-known type of epilepsy, despite the fact that it is actually one of the less common types of epilepsy. In many people’s minds, blinking lights are what triggers seizures most commonly. However, only around 3% of people with epilepsy experience photosensitive induced seizures.

Photosensitive epilepsy is triggered by flashing lights or contrasts in dark and light patterns. Seizures of this type are typically caused by lights flashing between 3-30 times per second.

Staying Alert to What Triggers Seizures

Seizures can occur seemingly out of the blue, but they are often linked to one of the triggers above, even if it’s not obvious at first. A physician can usually help patients break down what exactly caused a seizure.

Often times, it’s multiple triggers that ultimately result in a seizure. For example, low blood sugar paired with sleep deprivation is a common combination of what triggers seizures for people with epilepsy.

This guide will help you stay alert and keep a lookout for ways to avoid putting yourself or others at risk of a seizure.

For more health and lifestyle articles, check out the rest of our website!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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