Seizure Triggers

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Sometimes you may become aware that specific events or circumstances can set off or “trigger” your seizures. These are usually called seizure triggers.

Triggers for seizures are not the same as the cause for your epilepsy. Some seizure triggers are listed below, where as causes of epilepsy include things such as structural damage to the brain from events like a stroke or head injury, genetics, brain infections or tumours. A lot of the time, a cause of epilepsy cannot be determined. 

Triggers differ from person to person. Identifying your seizure triggers can help you to reduce or even avoid seizures.

Some reported seizure triggers include:

  • Missed medication
  • Lack of sleep
  • Physical fatigue and exhaustion
  • Stress, excitement, emotional upset
  • Menstruation/hormonal changes
  • Illness or fever
  • Poor diet or low blood sugar
  • Flickering lights or geometric patterns
  • Other medications
  • Alcohol use
  • Illicit drugs

What are your seizure triggers?

If you’re not sure the best way to find out is to keep a diary of not only your seizures, but the circumstances around your seizures.  Note things like if you were unwell, feeling stressed, drinking alcohol, had just woken up, not slept well, or having your period.

Click here to request one of our hardcopy Seizure Diaries

To help identify your seizure triggers:

  • After you have a seizure, make a note of:
    • what time of day it occurs,
    • any special circumstances surrounding it (eg sickness, menstruation, drinking alcohol, late night, forgotten medication),
    • if you were awake or asleep,
    • what you were doing and how you felt before the seizure.
  • If you notice a circumstance is happening consistently before seizures, it may be a seizure trigger for you.
  • You may notice that your seizures have a pattern or predominantly occur at similar times of the day
  • Take note of what happens around the times of your seizures, and not just when you have a seizure.

Once you have an idea what your seizure triggers might be, then you can work on reducing your exposure to these triggers, or managing them, for instance, managing stress.