A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop
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 injuryStrokeAlzheimer's diseaseBrain tumorsHeart failureKidney failureLiver failure
Any condition that deprives the brain of oxygen, such as
Infectious diseases, such as:
(excess fluid in the brain)
(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 feverPoor nutrition
Other factors that can increase your risk of epilepsy include:
LeadCarbon monoxideOther environmental toxins
drugsOverdose or withdrawal of antidepressants and other medicationsMedication interactionsAlcohol use disorder
Cysticercosis—an infection caused by a pork
NINDS epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
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.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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