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What increases my risk for epileptic seizures?

Jerome Engel, MD
Neurology
There are many factors that determine when the risk of having an epileptic seizure will be increased. There are specific types of seizures, for instance, that are provoked by sensory stimulation (reflex seizures). The most common stimulus is flashing lights, but other stimuli might be sudden startle, particular pieces of music, certain visual patterns, reading, eating and hot-water bucket baths. These, however, are rare. For most types of seizures, the risk of occurrence is commonly increased by sleep deprivation, alcohol withdrawal, use of stimulant drugs, fever, stress, and most importantly missing a dose of your antiseizure drug. For some people, seizures may be more likely to occur during sleep, while in others they may be more common in the morning, or there may be no such pattern. The menstrual cycle also influences the risk of seizure occurrence, which is highest just before and during menstruation, and in some women also during ovulation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.