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Who Is More At Risk Of Having A Seizure?

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Updated September 11, 2008

Question: Who Is More At Risk Of Having A Seizure?
Answer: If you have a family member or friend that experiences seizures, you might wonder what your risk of seizures is as well.

Seizure are characterized by an abnormal communication between cells within the brain. Depending upon where the electrical misfiring within the brain is occurring, seizures can range from twitching of a limb or a brief loss of consciousness to full-blown jerking movements.

While individuals who have epilepsy experience seizures, not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy. Seizures can occur in anybody, however, some individuals are at a higher risk than others. Having one of the following may place you at a higher risk of having a seizure (although it does not necessarily mean that you will have one):

  • Very high or very low blood sugar levels
  • Stroke
  • Low oxygen levels (such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or any other condition that prevents you from getting adequate oxygen)
  • Infections of the central nervous system (such as meningitis or encephalitis)
  • High fevers
  • Substance abuse or drug overdose (examples include cocaine, amphetamines)
  • Alcohol and substance abuse withdrawal
  • Certain medications
  • Head injury
  • Brain tumors/brain cancer
  • Certain metabolic disorders (such as low calcium levels, low sodium levels, or other electrolyte imbalance)
  • Neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis)

Source:

Braunwald E, Fauci ES, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. 2005.

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