Causes of Epilepsy

Skip Navigation

Advanced Search

Causes of Epilepsy


Seizures can occur in children with fevers (febrile seizure), which may or may not lead to epilepsy. Injury to the brain, infection (encephalitis or meningitis), certain genetic disorders, and chemical and nutritional imbalances may cause seizures. Seizures also occur as the result of brain tumors, bleeding in the brain, brain birth defects, or abnormal blood vessels in the brain, among other reasons.

Epilepsy Imitators

  Blood clot causing a stroke.

Seizures in older adults are caused by other factors. Stroke is the most frequent cause of seizures that begin later in life. Heart attacks may cut oxygen to the brain temporarily resulting in seizures. Alzheimer's disease, brain tumors, and scar tissue from brain surgery can cause seizures. Complications from kidney disease, liver disease, alcoholism, and diabetes can make a person prone to seizures.

More than 50 percent of the time, the cause of seizures cannot be determined. A single seizure does not necessarily mean that a person will develop epilepsy. Epilepsy is a condition of repeated seizures.

Many conditions that imitate epilepsy are not caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Epilepsy imitators include fainting spells, circulatory problems to the brain, low blood sugar, heart irregularities, sudden sleep attacks, confusional migraine headaches, vertigo (dizziness), tremor, tics, or other movement disorders. Psychological conditions such as psychogenic seizures, hyperventilation episodes, and panic attacks can also imitate epilepsy.

Contact Us

For more information on the Epilepsy Center, please call 1-800-BARROW1 (227-7691) or 602-406-6281.

Bottom of Navigation

Legal & Privacy Notices


Payment Assistance

Contact Us

Hospital Accreditation

© 2015 Dignity Health

Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000