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Risk Factors for Epilepsy
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop epilepsy with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing epilepsy. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for epilepsy include:
Any injury to the brain, either from external (environmental) or internal (medical/metabolic) sources can increase your risk of epilepsy.
|Side View of the Brain|
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Brain injury can be caused by:
- Head injury
- Alzheimer's disease
- Brain tumors
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Any condition that deprives the brain of oxygen, such as near-drowning
- Sleep deprivation
- Infectious diseases, such as:
- Hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the brain)
- Celiac disease (intolerance to wheat gluten)
- Metabolic conditions, such as low blood sugar , high or low salt, low magnesium or calcium
In some cases, epilepsy can result from genetic abnormalities inherited at birth.
Different causes and types of seizures are more or less likely depending on your age.
In children, risk factors include:
- High fever
- Poor nutrition
Other factors that can increase your risk of epilepsy include:
Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115086/Epilepsy-in-adults. Updated June 3, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900174/Epilepsy-in-children. Updated May 5, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
NINDS epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/epilepsy.htm. Updated February 21, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.
Seizure disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/seizure-disorders/seizure-disorders. Updated May 2012. Accessed February 22, 2013.
What are the risk factors? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-are-risk-factors. Accessed February 17, 2014.
5/6/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115086/Epilepsy-in-adults: Quet F, Guerchet M, Pion SD, Ngoungou EB, Nicoletti A, Preux PM.. Meta-analysis of the association between cysticercosis and epilepsy in Africa. Epilepsia. 2010;51(5):830-837.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 03/2016
- Update Date: 03/15/2015