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What are Triggers for Seizures?

Even though epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disorder, affecting an estimated 1 in 26 people at some point in their lifetime, there’s still a great deal about seizures that many people don’t know. One of the first questions many people have is: what are triggers for seizures? While for more than half the people with epilepsy have no identifiable causes of the condition, for the other half the condition can be traced to a variety of factors.

What are triggers for seizures? What are triggers for seizures?

Identifying and understanding the triggers, symptoms, risk factors and preventative measures for seizures are vitally important for helping to minimize their occurrence and potential complications. Some people find that seizures are more likely to occur in certain situations and keeping track of those factors that may precipitate a seizure can help you recognize when a seizure might be coming and what triggers you should try to avoid. Common triggers for seizures can include:

  • Sleep deprivation, which can include not sleeping well, being overtired or not sleeping enough.
  • Flashing bright lights or patterns.
  • Stress.
  • Not eating well or having low blood sugar.
  • Specific times of day or night.
  • Fevers and other illnesses.
  • Hormonal changes, including certain times during the menstrual cycle for women.
  • Certain medications.
  • Specific foods or drinks, especially beverages containing caffeine.

Some people might notice that very specific types of stimuli consistently trigger seizures, a condition known as ‘reflex’ epilepsy. For these individuals the following examples might be triggers:

  • Bright, flashing lights.
  • Reading.
  • Certain sounds or noises.

A trigger is something that causes seizures consistently, usually more than just one or two times. It’s important to keep track of what triggers cause seizures for you or a loved one to help minimize exposure. Find ways to lessen their impact and prepare for potential unexpected triggers,

Keep a seizure journal or diary to take note of all of the conditions surrounding your seizure. Note the time of day it occurs, your sounding environment, specific activities, how you felt, and any other details surrounding the incident. Keep track of reoccurring themes and factors that could be triggers, and consult with your doctor to find ways to minimize these triggers.

It’s also important to always wear a medical alert bracelet with information about your seizures, medications and emergency instructions and contacts. This will help others get you the medical attention you need quickly, especially in situations where you are unable to speak for yourself.

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