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Epilepsy - Cause

Epilepsy may develop even though you do not have any risk factors (things that increase your risk). A cause cannot always be identified. This is especially true in many forms of childhood epilepsy. For some people, epilepsy can result from a tumor, infection, or damage to the brain.

Children and older adults are most likely to develop epilepsy, but it can start at any age. It is possible that epilepsy may run in families. But you do not have to have a family history to develop epilepsy.

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Epileptic seizures occur when abnormal bursts of electricity in the brain briefly upset normal brain function. It's not always clear what triggers the bursts of abnormal electrical activity.

Conditions that can cause seizures include:

  • Head injury.
  • Stroke or conditions that affect the blood vessels (vascular system) in the brain.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in the brain.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Brain infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal.

Tumors, scar tissue from injury or disease, or abnormal brain development may damage a specific area of the brain and cause partial seizures. But you may not have any of these conditions and still develop epilepsy.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 2/, 014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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