Epilepsy & Seizures

How do other illnesses affect seizure disorders?

A Answers (2)

  • Seizure disorders, also known as epilepsy, can be caused by other illnesses that affect the brain. For example, Alzheimer's disease, strokes, brain tumors, and heart attacks have all been known to cause epilepsy. Illnesses that restrict the flow of oxygen to the brain can lead to epilepsy. For example, older adults are particularly at risk for epilepsy if they have cerebrovascular disease, which involves decreased blood flow to the brain. Metabolic disorders, such as problems with blood sugar or kidney or liver failure, can cause epilepsy. Infectious diseases that affect the brain can also cause epilepsy. These include:

    • meningitis;
    • viral encephalitis;
    • rabies;
    • syphilis;
    • AIDS;
    • malaria;
    • toxoplasmosis; and
    • tetanus.

    Other illnesses that have found to cause epilepsy include hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid in the brain), celiac disease (a wheat gluten intolerance), and parasitic infections of the brain.

    In people who are born with birth defects or developmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy may be one symptom of their disorder.

  • AAngela Mark, MD, Neurology, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    Concurrent infections such as an upper respiratory infection or urinary tract infection can lower seizure threshold making it more likely for a patient with epilepsy to have a breakthrough seizure. Also antibiotics used to treat infections can make it more likely for one to have a seizure. Fluoroquinolones being the most notorious for lowering seizure threshold. In addition other medications used to treat depression, head colds or muscle spasms can cause also make seizures more likely. Renal and liver failure will affect which anti-seizure medication might be used and change the dose.
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