What Is the Main Cause of Seizures?

Reviewed on 1/14/2022

Rendering of brain
There are several disorders and conditions that can cause seizures, including epilepsy, which is the main cause. Causes of seizures can vary by age (newborns, infants, adults, and seniors).

Epilepsy is the main cause of seizures, but there are several disorders and conditions that can also cause seizures. Causes of seizures can vary by age (newborns, infants, adults, and seniors).

Causes of seizures in newborns include:

  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Low levels of sugar, calcium, magnesium, or other electrolytes in the blood
  • Metabolic problems
  • Malformations of the brain
  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Maternal drug use 

Causes of seizures in infants and young children include:

Causes of seizures in children and adults include:

  • Congenital conditions 
  • Head trauma
  • Genetics
  • Progressive brain disease (rare)

Causes of seizures in seniors include:

What Are Symptoms of Seizures?

Symptoms of seizures may include:

  • Motor symptoms 
    • Tense or rigid muscles (tonic)
    • Sustained rhythmic jerking movements (clonic)
    • Jerking (clonic)
    • Muscle weakness or limpness (atonic) 
    • Brief muscle twitching (myoclonus)
    • Epileptic spasms (body flexes and extends repeatedly)
    • Repeated automatic movements (automatisms), such as clapping or rubbing of hands, lip smacking, chewing, or running
  • Non-motor symptoms (absence seizures) 
    • Staring spells
    • Brief twitches that can affect a specific body part or just the eyelids
    • Changes in sensation
    • Mood changes
    • Changes in autonomic functions (such as gastrointestinal sensations, waves of heat or cold, goosebumps, heart racing, etc.)
    • Lack of movement (behavior arrest)

How Are Seizures Diagnosed?

Tests used to diagnose the cause of seizures include: 


What Is Epilepsy? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments See Slideshow

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Reviewed on 1/14/2022
Image Source: iStock Images