What Causes Epilepsy?
Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of activity in the brain can trigger epilepsy. The cause can be illness, brain damage, or abnormal development of the brain. However, for about 75% of people with epilepsy no cause can be found.
- Brain chemistry
- Prenatal injuries
- Hereditary causes
- Environmental causes
- Head injury
Head injuries can cause seizures. If the head injury is severe, the seizures may not begin until years later. Head injury is one of the biggest causes of epilepsy in South Africa in particular, due to the high incidence of motor vehicle accidents.
Epilepsy can be triggered by brain damage caused by other disorders and can sometimes be stopped by treating these underlying disorders. In other cases, epileptic seizures will continue after the underlying cause is treated. Whether the seizures can be stopped depends on the type of disorder, the part of the brain that is affected, and how much damage has been done. Disorders that may trigger epilepsy include:
Stroke, heart attacks, and other conditions that affect the blood supply to the brain;
Infectious diseases such as meningitis, viral encephalitis, and AIDS can cause epilepsy;
Cerebral palsy and a number of other developmental and metabolic disorders can cause epilepsy.