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Things that trigger seizures

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Trigger factors are things that set off seizures in some people. They don't cause epilepsy in the first place.

Here are some common triggers. [1] [3] [8]

  • Lack of sleep. Many people say they are more likely to have a seizure if they haven't had enough sleep.

  • Flickering lights. Some people with epilepsy are sensitive to light (photosensitive). This means that flashing lights or the flickering of televisions, video games, or computer monitors can set off a seizure. Only about 1 in 20 people with epilepsy are affected in this way.

  • Fever. Having a high temperature can bring on a seizure in young children. This is less likely in adults.

  • Your period. Some women find they have more seizures around their period. The seizures tend to happen in the week before or in the first few days of their period. Doctors think the change in hormones during this time affects seizures, but they don't know why.

  • Stress. Sometimes, seizures happen when people are stressed or anxious. Finding ways to manage stress may help prevent seizures. To learn more, see What treatments work for epilepsy?

  • Skipping doses of your medicine. To control epilepsy, you need a steady level of the right drug in your blood. If you skip a dose, this level can fall, which can trigger a seizure.

  • Skipping meals. Not eating regularly or not eating a balanced diet may trigger seizures.

  • Loud noise. A sudden, loud noise, such as a door banging or loud music, can trigger a seizure.

  • Drinking too much alcohol. Some people get seizures when they've had a lot of alcohol. This may be due to the effects of alcohol on the brain. Or it may be because of what happens in the body when the alcohol level in the blood drops. Also, drinking too much alcohol often means a late night, a missed dinner and forgotten doses of drugs, all of which can trigger a seizure. We're not sure how much alcohol you can safely drink if you have seizures. For some people, even a small amount can trigger a seizure.

Glossary

high temperature

A high temperature is a general sign that there is an infection or inflammation in your body. Temperatures vary, but anything over about 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered high.

hormones

Hormones are chemicals that are made in certain parts of the body. They travel through the bloodstream and have an effect on other parts of the body. For example, the female sex hormone oestrogen is made in a woman's ovaries. Oestrogen has many different effects on a woman's body. It makes the breasts grow at puberty and helps control periods. It is also needed to get pregnant.

For more terms related to Epilepsy

Citations

For references related to Epilepsy click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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