Department of Neurology

Sickhouse syndrome and seizures

Q: I have a friend who had been in perfect health. She and her husband are building a house (new rugs, walls, paint, landscaping chemicals etc...)and she has recently had her first several epileptic seizures.

She went to a neurologist and is being diagnosed currently - They won't prescribe anti-seizure drugs until she has been observed for six weeks. She would like to know if anyone has heard of "sickhouse" syndrome relating to epilepsy. She has no history in the family of seizures, nor had she had any occurrences until this year.


A: I would tend to doubt that the fumes associated with a new home alone would cause seizures in a person that did not have some sort of tendency for seizures, but I do not have the benefit of knowing the details of her problems. In any event, she would still need a full neurologic evaluation, and if her seizures are still continuing, she will probably need treatment. Many neurologists do not treat a single seizure, and wait until it recurs, since about 30-60% of persons with a single seizure do not have further episodes.

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