Epilepsy is quite common neurological disorder affecting some 50 millions of people all over the world. Even though this problem is more likely to be diagnosed in developing countries, many people in the United States also suffer from epileptic seizures.
What Triggers Epilepsy?
People suffering from epileptic seizures often discover that certain things or situations provoke the fits. Lack of sleep and stress are commonly known to cause epilepsy in sensitive people. Binge drinking, hangover and actually any consummation of alcohol may also be a trigger for epileptic convulsions, as well as recreational and illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, heroine, codeine or methadone.
Flashing lights may also initiate epileptic seizure. This is an uncommon trigger for epilepsy, but some 5% of epileptic patients suffering from photosensitive epilepsy experience seizures after exposure to such lights.
Menstruation may also be identified as an epileptic trigger, because hormones released into the female body before, during and after menstrual bleeding can affect the brain and make it susceptible to seizures.
Children of young age are found to be sensitive to fever (high body temperature), reacting to it with epileptic convulsions.
Low seizure threshold is also known to lead to increased sensitivity to epileptic seizures and frequent epileptic fits, while people with high seizure threshold have much rarer problems with any seizures or epileptic triggers.
Types of Epilepsy
Some cases of epilepsy cannot be associated with any exact cause and these are known as idiopathic epilepsy while others are caused by head injuries or other problems (symptomatic epilepsy). Another type of epilepsy is cryptogenic epilepsy, a condition with no apparent cause of seizures. Doctors, however, suspect that some brain damage may be the reason behind these seizures.
Idiopathic epilepsy is usually considered to be caused by some small genetic changes in the brain. Some recent studies have been focusing on the genetic mistakes which may affect electrical impulses in the brain, functioning of the neurons and provoke epileptic seizures, but there are no such confirmations so far.
Symptomatic epileptic seizures may appear in people who abuse alcohol or drugs, or those who are suffering from brain infection (meningitis), head injuries, stroke or brain tumors. Birth defects as well as some problems during the birth making the baby oxygen deprived (labor compression or twisted umbilical cord) can also cause epileptic seizures.
Cryptogenic epilepsy is linked to some disruption or damage to the brain, despite the lack of an actual cause of convulsions. Many of these patients have learning problems, autistic spectrum disorder or other developmental issues, as well as unusual EEC (electroencephalogram, electrical brain activity), all suggesting brain damage as a cause of this condition.