- If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number.
- Stay with the person until help arrives.
- Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
- Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
- If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline.
Certain types of seizures affect your motor movements. You may lose control of muscle function during a seizure and fall to the ground, hit your head on nearby objects, and even break a bone.
This is typical of atonic seizures, also known as drop attacks.
Individuals with epilepsy can get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies and babies, but extra precaution is needed.
About 15 to 25 percent of pregnant individuals will have worsening seizures during pregnancy. On the other hand, 15 to 25 percent will also see improvement.
Some antiseizure medications can cause birth defects, so you and your doctor need to carefully evaluate your medications before you plan to get pregnant.
Less common complications include:
- Status epilepticus. Severe seizures — ones that are prolonged or happen very frequently — can cause status epilepticus. People with this condition are more likely to develop permanent brain damage.
- Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Sudden, unexplained death is possible in people with epilepsy, but it’s rare. It occurs in 1.16 of every 1,000 casesTrusted Source of epilepsy and is ranked second only to stroke in leading causes of death in the disease. Doctors don’t know what causes SUDEP, but one theory suggests that heart and respiratory issues may contribute.
In about half of epilepsy cases, the cause is unknown.
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 tumor. Tumors 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 disorders. Autism and developmental conditions like it may cause epilepsy.
- Genetic factors. Having a close family member with epilepsy increases your risk for 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.