Causes & Symptoms

In more than half of epilepsy cases, doctors will not be able to identify a cause. These epilepsy cases, called idiopathic epilepsy, make up 60 to 70 percent of epilepsy cases.

The four most common causes of epilepsy are:

  • Brain infection: Infections such as AIDS, meningitis, and viral encephalitis have been shown to cause epilepsy.


  • Brain tumour: Tumours in the brain can interrupt normal brain cell activity and cause seizures.


  • Head trauma: Head injuries can lead to epilepsy. These injuries may include sports injuries, falls, or accidents.


  • Stroke: Vascular diseases and conditions, such as stroke, interrupt the brain’s ability to function normally. This can cause epilepsy.

Other epilepsy causes include:


  • Neurodevelopmental disorder: Autism and developmental conditions like it may cause epilepsy.


  • Genetic factors: Having a close family member with epilepsy increases your risk of developing epilepsy. This suggests an inherited gene may cause epilepsy. It’s also possible specific genes make a person more susceptible to environmental triggers that can lead to epilepsy.


  • Prenatal factors: During their development, fetuses are particularly sensitive to brain damage. This damage might be the result of physical damage, as well as poor nutrition and reduced oxygen. All of these factors could cause epilepsy or other brain abnormalities in children.


Symptoms of epilepsy depend on the type of seizure you’re experiencing and what parts of the brain are affected. Some common symptoms of epilepsy include:

  • A staring spell
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness or recognition
  • Uncontrollable movement, often including jerking and pulling
  • Repetitive movements
  • Convulsing