How can individuals tell if they’re having a seizure?

Seizures are caused by an abnormal surge of electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can be random, but some people have triggers that might cause them. Being aware of possible triggers can assist to reduce the likelihood of experiencing them.

Seizures are sudden, brief changes in movement, behavior, sensation, or states of consciousness caused by aberrant electrical discharges in the brain. Seizure symptoms range depending on which parts of the brain are affected and how severe they are.

Seizures are classified by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) depending on the kind of onset or where they begin in the brain.

Seizures can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain damage, or underlying illnesses. Seizure triggers do not cause seizures, but they can cause them in people who are prone to them.

Stress, fatigue, and the lack of medications are all typical factors. Knowing what might cause seizures and how to avoid them will help you avoid them.

In this post, we will look at some of the most frequent seizure triggers, the distinction between causes and triggers, and how to detect probable triggers.

Common triggers

Epileptic Patient

Some people with epilepsy, especially those who have experienced recurring seizures, may observe that they happen in predictable patterns or in certain people. These variables, often known as seizure triggers, may increase the likelihood of seizures. Some people with epilepsy, on the other hand, may not have any triggers. Seizures can be triggered by a variety of triggers, including:

Missed medications

Anti-epileptic medications must be taken on a regular basis to maintain a constant amount of medication in the body. A person’s risk of seizures increases if they miss a dosage, and seizures become more severe or occur more frequently as a result.

If you don’t take them as directed, you might develop status epilepticus, a long-term seizure that doctors consider a medical emergency.

Sleep deprivation and tiredness

According to a 2020 research, seizures and sleep have a bidirectional link, with seizures causing sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation triggering seizures. During typical sleep-wake cycles, changes in the brain’s electrical and hormonal activity occur, which may contribute to seizures and affect their intensity and length.

Stress

Seizures are frequently triggered by stress. However, the actual nature of their relationship remains unknown. Everyone reacts to stress differently, and stress can take many forms. A person may get stressed as a result of big life events or a pile of everyday annoyances.

Stress may have a physical impact on the body, resulting in a loss of sleep, a shift in dietary habits, and the use of alcohol or other substances, all of which can lead to seizures.

Alcohol

Small quantities of alcohol are unlikely to cause seizures. Even for people who do not have epilepsy, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time might trigger a seizure.

When the effects of alcohol on the body start to wear off, alcohol-related seizures become more likely. They can happen anywhere between 6 and 72 hours after drinking. Alcohol can also impair sleep and interfere with medicines, raising the chance of a seizure.

Flashing lights

Flashing lights or contrasting patterns might trigger a seizure in people with photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive seizures affect only around 3% of epilepsy people. This variety appears to be more frequent in females and younger people, according to evidence.

Nutrition and deficiencies

If a diabetic suffers from severe hypoglycemia, which can develop as a result of missing meals, their extremely low blood sugar levels might trigger a seizure.

Vitamin and mineral deficits can also cause seizures in certain people. Vitamin B6 deficiency can trigger seizures in newborns, however it is less prevalent in adults. Mineral imbalances, such as calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium, can cause seizures by altering brain cell electrical activity.

Infection and illness

Seizures might be triggered by illness in certain people. This might be caused by the illness’s physical impact on the body, a lack of sleep, bad dietary habits, certain drugs, or dehydration.

Seizures are frequently caused by a viral infection of the central nervous system. Seizures can be triggered by common ailments like sinus infections or a cold in rare cases.

Menstruation

Catamenial epilepsy is a kind of epilepsy in which seizures become worse or more common during specific people of the menstrual cycle. This is extremely uncommon, and research shows that it is caused by variations in progesterone and estrogen levels.

Weather

According to a 2017 research, low pressure and excessive humidity might trigger seizures. Although there isn’t conclusive evidence that weather has an influence on seizure risk.

Seizures are more common in the winter, according to a 2018 research. However, according to a survey conducted by the Epilepsy Society, extreme heat can provoke breakthrough episodes in well-controlled seizures and make uncontrolled seizures more severe and intense. This suggests that extremes in temperature might produce physiological changes that lead to seizures.

Certain medications

Seizures may be triggered by several over-the-counter drugs. Antidepressants, stimulants, tramadol, and isoniazid are among the drugs that have been linked to seizures in certain people, according to a 2016 research.

Triggers vs. causes

The cause of epilepsy is unknown in two out of every three people . It can, however, be caused by genetic problems or brain ailments including stroke, traumatic brain damage, infections, or other neurological diseases.

Although a seizure can be triggered by a trigger, seizure triggers are not the same as seizure causes. A stressful circumstance, for example, might provoke a seizure, but the underlying cause of the seizure could be brain structural damage.

Because seizures are unpredictable, it may be difficult to figure out why they happen, and some people mistakenly believe that triggers like exhaustion are to blame. However, it’s more likely that the person was already predisposed, and the trigger just triggered a seizure in someone who was already vulnerable.

Reflex seizures

Seizures are typically unpredictable and can happen at any time. While some people may identify triggers, many people’s triggers are more general, such as stress or exhaustion. Other people, on the other hand, may have reflex seizures, which are seizures that occur on a regular basis as a result of particular and recognizable stimuli or cognitive processes.

Potential stimuli, such as seeing flashing lights or touching hot water, or interior stimuli, such as feeling particular emotions or going through specific mental processes, can all cause reflex seizures. This is quite uncommon.

How to Recognize Triggers

Identification of a person’s particular seizure triggers can be challenging and time-consuming. A seizure diary can be kept to record actions or events that lead up to a seizure. Over time, a pattern may emerge, exposing likely seizure triggers.

A person should try to manage their condition and prevent or decrease exposure to potential triggers while seeking to identify likely triggers. People can attempt the following suggestions:

  • taking medication as their doctor prescribes
  • getting enough and regular sleep
  • lowering stress

Conclusion

Stimuli that can induce a seizure in some people are known as seizure triggers. Individual triggers vary, but common ones include illness, tiredness, alcohol, and a lack of medication.

Triggers are not the same as causes. Seizures are frequently caused by underlying conditions, whereas triggers simply cause seizures in people who are already predisposed to them.

People may find it difficult to identify their own specific triggers, but maintaining a journal of possible triggers and avoiding certain stimuli may help prevent seizures.

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