Sometimes seizure activity may increase due to a change in medication or a missed diagnosis. In other cases, a person may be triggering seizure activity due to a series of events that increase the activity.
What Induces a Seizure?
Triggers can induce a seizure in some people with epilepsy. These triggers often differ from person to person with the most common triggers, including tiredness and lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and not monitoring medication. For the majority, triggers can be acknowledged and reduced lessening the chances of having a seizure. Knowing and understanding a link between increased seizure activity could help to reduce the number of episodes once the link has been corrected.
What's The Difference Between a Cause and a Trigger?
Triggers for seizures are not the same as the cause of a seizure. Reasons can be genetic or as a result of structural damage to the brain, whereas a trigger is a repetitive action that leads to an increasing pattern of seizures.
Causes Or Trigger?
Epilepsy can develop at any time of life, making it difficult to work out how a person's seizure activity began. The activity itself is caused by damage within the brain. However, a seizure may not take place until a trigger such as stress, poor sleep, or alcohol stimulates a seizure.
How to Reduce The Triggers of a Seizure?
Seizures can be controlled with the correct medication and lifestyle. Understanding what triggers your seizures is the best way of reducing them for a healthier life.
The most common triggers are as follows;
Tiredness & Poor Sleep Quality: In some cases, poor sleep has been linked to an increase in seizure activity. A night of disrupted sleep may affect seizure activity during the day. Equally, people who are diagnosed with epilepsy may have disrupted sleep or a seizure during the day may affect the next few nights of sleep. It is recommended to get 8 hours of sleep allocating a time to go to bed and a time to wake up to set a healthy 'body clock'.
Daily Stress: The parts of the brain which regulate the stress response are also often involved in epilepsy. So it's not difficult to imagine how stress could play a role in triggering seizures, or the development of epilepsy. Stress can affect different people in different ways. Some people with epilepsy find that during periods of stress, they are more likely to have seizures. This can be particularly likely if the stress happens over a long period of time. For other people with epilepsy, stress doesn't affect them in the same way.
Alcohol: The alcohol itself is not a trigger for seizure activity, nor does it affect most medications, so having a drink or two in a social situation is nothing to worry about. The risk begins when a person becomes a heavy drinker and is reliant on the alcohol. Heavy consumption can reduce the effectiveness of the medication leading to an induced seizure. In contrast, the removal of alcohol can lead to status epilepticus - long-lasting seizures that can last over five minutes, putting the body in serious danger.
Inadequate Monitoring of Medication: With most conditions, should a person continually forget to take their medication, their seizures may increase or occur close together, leaving no time for recovery. Ensuring the medication is monitored will reduce this risk entirely.
What To Do If You Notice Induced Seizures?
If you experience an increase in seizure activity, we would recommend contacting your health care professional. You can note down changes in your lifestyle should you be lacking a healthy sleep pattern or a heavy round of drinks at the weekend. This will help your doctor to understand if your seizures are being induced or it is another problem altogether.