What Causes Epilepsy?

Epilepsy has many causes. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of nerve cell activity – including illness, brain damage and abnormal brain development – can lead to seizures.

Epilepsy may develop because of an abnormality in brain cell function, abnormalities in how brain cells connect with one another, or an imbalance of the chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that signal the nerves, or by a combination of things.

Researchers believe that some people with epilepsy have an abnormally high level of excitatory neurotransmitters that increase nerve cell activity, while others have an abnormally low level of inhibitory neurotransmitters that decrease nerve cell activity in the brain.

Sometimes, after a head injury, stroke, or other problem, the brain tries to heal itself. This healing process may accidentally cause abnormal connections that can lead to epilepsy. Abnormalities in brain wiring that occur when the brain is developing may also lead to epilepsy.

About half of all seizures have no known cause. However, in other cases, the seizures are clearly linked to infection, trauma or other problems that can be identified.

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Resources:

Mayo Clinic
Epilepsy Risk Factors