Epilepsy Symptoms & Causes

Finding the Underlying Cause of Your Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. A person is determined to have epilepsy if they have suffered more than one seizure. Seizures may last a few seconds to a several minutes.


Epilepsy can be caused by different conditions that affect a person’s brain. Many times the cause is unknown.

If a source can be linked to an individual’s seizures, it is typically identified as a:

  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Abnormal brain development
  • Stroke
  • Infection of the brain
  • Genetic disorder
  • Other neurologic disease or illness


Since epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can affect any process your brain coordinates. The symptoms of seizures vary between patients and can range in severity from mild to severe. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.

Signs and symptoms of epilepsy and seizure disorders may include:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Periods of staring into space
  • Smelling odors that aren’t there
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Crawling feeling under or tingling of the skin
  • Inability to speak during the seizure
  • Abnormal head movements
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Facial flushing
  • Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu

Appropriate medical treatment can often fully control the symptoms of epilepsy, allowing patients to live active, normal lives.

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