Department of Neurology

Why do I have seizures?

The most common question my new patients ask is "Why do I have seizures?" After a complete history, physical, and review of their medical record, I find a likely cause in most people. Seizures are just a symptom of abnormal electrical discharges in the brain, so there are a large number of possible causes. Almost any condition that affects the brain can sometimes cause seizures. Some of these conditions are reversible or temporary, like hypoglycemia; people with these conditions will not be prone to have recurrent seizures. Other people have conditions that cause permanent changes in brain function, and these people may develop epilepsy. A person is considered to have epilepsy after they have had two or more unprovoked seizures due to an irreversible or unknown cause.

But some causes are more common than others. Consider 100 people with their very first seizure:

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