You cannot predict when you are going to have a seizure. Most people don’t know what causes them. There are certain “seizure triggers” that can increase your chance of having a seizure even if taking medicine. This sheet is to inform you of things that may trigger seizures.
A seizure trigger is something that can make it more likely to have a seizure, mainly if you already have trend to having seizures.
1. Missing Doses
The most common seizure trigger is missing doses of your seizure medicine. The medicine works best when taken every day, around the same time of day. This can result in a stable level of the drug in your blood.
2. Alcohol and Drugs
Too much use of alcohol or certain drugs (such as cocaine, ecstacy), or a sudden stop of either can trigger seizures. Some prescribed medicine, over the counter or herbal medicine may also trigger seizures because they lower your seizure threshold. They may also interfere with your seizure medicine. Always check with your pharmacist when starting a new medicine to see if it will affect your seizure medicine.
3. Lack of Sleep
This is a known seizure trigger. We suggest a regular sleep pattern, avoid late nights, or going without sleep if you can. You should also seek treatment for sleep apnea or other causes of chronic sleep loss to decrease the risk of breakthrough seizures.
Infections, vomiting, diarrhea and fever can also lower your seizure threshold, making it more likely to have a breakthrough seizure.
For some women hormones can trigger seizures at certain times in their monthly menstrual cycle. You may have frequent seizures during the premenstrual and ovulating phases. Discuss any changes that may help reduce seizures during your monthly cycle with your Neurologist and Primary Care Doctor.
Many people with epilepsy report that emotional stress and anxiety can be a seizure trigger, mainly when combined with severe fatigue or lack of sleep. Therapy and taking part in support groups may help you find ways to relax. This can decrease stress and anxiety and improve coping skills and your quality of life.
7. Sensory Input
Some people who have “Reflex Epilepsy”, have seizures that are triggered by an external stimulus. These triggers may include; a light that flickers or flashes, music, reading, math, touch, and soaking in hot water. Once the trigger is known, you should avoid it and take your medicine.
Many people with epilepsy do not have seizure triggers. It varies with each person. You should keep precise records of your seizures and include details of what occurred before the seizure. This can help to point to the likely trigger. One great way of doing this is by keeping a seizure diary. If you record your seizures it will be helpful to track the pattern and find the triggers that you may be able to avoid. This will improve your quality of life. Rather than increasing your seizure medicine, it is better to identify seizure triggers and avoid them. Increase doses of medicine may also increase your chance of side effects.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 04/20/2012
Copyright © 04/20/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7321
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