Epilepsy: Triggers, Causes, and Treatments

Epilepsy is a common brain condition (chronic disorder) that causes recurring yet unprovoked seizures. According to the official epilepsy stats, more than 65 million people have epilepsy across the globe. A person with epilepsy suffers from seizures because of the sudden electrical activity rush in the brain. There are two main types of epilepsy seizures which are generalized seizures and partial seizures. The generalized seizures affect the patient’s whole brain, and the partial seizures, as the name suggests, affect only a part of the brain.

What Triggers the Epileptic Seizure?

Some people who are suffering from epilepsy can identify the situations and factors that trigger an epileptic seizure. Some of the most common reports are:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Low blood sugar
  • Head trauma
  • High fever or illness
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Flashing or bright lights, or patterns
  • Overeating
  • Specific food ingredients
  • Skipping meals
  • Consumption of drugs, medicines, alcohol, caffeine

But the fact of the matter is that identifying the reasons and triggers isn’t always an easy task. That’s because most of the time, it’s a combination of factors instead of a single one that triggers a seizure.

Treatment for Epilepsy

Currently, there is no simple and straightforward cure for most epilepsy types. In order to prevent seizures, a patient might need to take AEDs (Anti-Epileptic Drugs). If this method of treatment fails to work, then there are other options as well, such as a special diet, VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation), or even surgery.

AEDs (Anti-Epileptic Drugs)

According to the AES (American Epilepsy Society) stats, AEDs help patients to control seizures in most of the cases (around 60 to 70 percent). However, the type of seizure defines the type of AEDs that a patient will need to take. According to NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) study, some of the most common AEDs that patients take are:

  • levetiracetam
  • valproic acid
  • lamotrigine
  • carbamazepine

bear in mind that it’s not certain that a drug that controls seizures in one person will provide the same results for all patients. Moreover, it’s also important to figure out the right dosage even after determining the right drug.


Doctors mostly opt for surgery when at least a couple of medications have failed to control epileptic seizures. According to the American Academy of Neurology study that was conducted in Sweden, 50 percent of children and 62 percent of adults didn’t experience a single epileptic seizure for about seven years after surgery.

According to the NINDS study, the following are the surgical options for patients suffering from epilepsy.


In the most extreme cases, doctors might need to remove a portion of a person’s hemisphere which is the brain’s once half of the cerebral cortex.

Corpus Callosotomy

In this surgery, the (neural) connection between the two halves of the patient’s brain is cut.

Multiple Subpial Transection

In this surgery, surgeons cut several connections to one part of the patient’s brain to limit seizures.


In this type of surgery, doctors remove a particular part of the patient’s brain in which the seizures start.


The American Academy of Neurology study suggests that a diet with low carbohydrate and high fat can benefit adults as well as children who are suffering from epilepsy. It’s important to note that diet doesn’t always ensure progress because the study also shows that while it helped some patients, it also remained ineffective for others.

Final Word

Epilepsy can affect just about any other system of the patient’s body. Seizures not only cause physical problems, but the fear of having them can also cause mental stress and depression. Surgery, anti-epileptic drugs, and diet can control seizures, and it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.