Home » Diseases & Conditions » Epilepsy Causes and Risk Factors

Epilepsy Causes and Risk Factors

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes a person to have seizures. Seizures occur due to the electrical signal in your brain is suddenly disrupted. This disruption can cause changes in your awareness, behavior, body movements, emotions or sensations.

A seizure can be referred to as an “electrical storm” that causes the brain to do things that the person does not intend to.

Epilepsy affects nearly 3 millions Americans and 50 millions people worldwide. It commonly diagnosed in childhood, especially during the first year. The rate of new cases gradually declines until about age 10 and then become stable. After age 60, the risk starts to increase again.

What Causes Epilepsy?

The causes of epilepsy can be divided into two major groups: Idiopathic epilepsy and Symptomatic epilepsy.

Idiopathic Epilepsy

In this type of epilepsy, the cause is unknown. However, it is believed that the seizures are caused by a lack of certain group of chemicals that are used to regulate the electrical impulses in the brain. Over 50% of epilepsy cases in children are Idiopathic epilepsy.

Symptomatic Epilepsy

In this type of epilepsy, the cause can be identified, including: Illness, infection, head injuries, brain tumor, stroke, development disability, low blood sugar, low oxygen levels, kidney failure, alcohol, and certain medications.

Epilepsy can occur in all people at all ages. However, some of the following risk factors may increase your risk of having epilepsy.

Risk Factors for Epilepsy

  • Age
    The onset of epilepsy is most common in children below age 10 and elderly after age 65.
  • Gender
    Men are slightly at higher risk of developing epilepsy than women.
  • Race
    African-Americans and other racial minorities are more likely to have epilepsy than Caucasians.
  • Family history
    The risk of developing epilepsy increases if you have family history of epilepsy.
  • Medical Conditions
    Individuals with the following medical conditions have a higher risk of developing epilepsy: