Epilepsy Action
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Causes of epilepsy

Hi have been reading on the Epilepsy Society site that according to much research all epilepsy has a genetic cause.I can only speak of my own personal circumstances and as far as I know it isn't the case .It does worry me a lot that if its true then I worry about my daughters or grandkids inheriting it .I would really like to know if anyone has been given such information from their doctor or specialist?Also I have read information that head injuries can be a cause too.If so would head injuries no matter how they are caused even a long time ago still be a reason for becoming epileptic years later ?I would really be grateful to anyone who can give me information .


8 Replies

Hi Mike972

Thank you for your post.

Sometimes things we find on the web can be frightening. So I will answer your concerns.

In over half of all people with epilepsy, doctors don’t know what causes it. People develop epilepsy for no apparent reason. Although there can sometimes be a genetic connection when it’s the father that has epilepsy, the risk is lower that when it’s the mum.

Here is some information about the risks of a child developing epilepsy, when other family members have the condition.


Sometimes, doctors can find a clear cause for a person’s epilepsy. Possible causes of epilepsy include:


•Severe head injury

•Problems during birth which caused the baby to get less oxygen.

It is possible for a head injury from many years ago that has left damage on the brain to cause epilepsy. Why this happens may never be explained but it could be due to changes in our brain as we get older. If someone has epilepsy due to a brain injury this type of epilepsy is not genetic and won’t be passed on.

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again. You can contact us directly by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or phone the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm.



Epilepsy Action Helpline Team


Thank you for your very helpful comments Diane and I will look into your information in the next few days .I was particularly interested in your comments about past head injuries as its something I experienced .I do wonder if that might be the reason for my epilepsy much later in my life.



My epilepsy started after I had a BI on the right temporal lobe that in turn had ripped my meninges . Before the operation I had to sign a waiver because it was a bit dodgy . I ended up with epilepsy , very bad to begin with . It got controlled but over the last few years has slowly started up again . It may not be genetic but its as much a pain in the neck .


Hi daveeb excuse my lack of knowledge but what is a BI?I have never had any operation for my epilepsy but twice had all sorts of wires attached to me for a week .That according to my epilepsy doctor was to try and find out what was the likely cause.It was definitely something I don't want to go through again and worse still he was none the wiser of the cause.Its a pity your epilepsy has got worse again and I wish you well



Hi Mike. I had a head injury about 24 years ago and recently started with Epilepsy having full Grand mal seizures about once every three weeks. When we spoke to the Neurologist they confirmed that my head injury was probably the cause of the epilepsy even though it was so long ago. They said it was that the brain could only cope with the damage from the head injury for so long very much like boxers and rugby players go on to have problems around 20 years later. In my case I probably had a basal skull fracture, but it was never spotted then. My epilepsy is now under control with medication and I have been fit free for over 18 months and have just started driving again. At no point did anyone medical ever mention genetics and neither of my two children, grandchildren or parents (when they were alive) show any signs of epilepsy. Hope this helps.



Thanks Heather and Grand mal or Tonic Clonic as apparently what the name is now are what I suffer from.As I said earlier to another comment I had a head injury (Actually quite a few)when just a child so I was really curious if that could have been the case for my current epilepsy.I get it that many boxers and rugby players go on to have problems later in life but never really thought about that .I am happy you have yours under control and not had a seizure for 18 months.Mine have been very erratic and still are and indeed I had my latest one just a few months ago.But sometimes I will go like 6 months or so without one then other times have 6 or more in a few months or even less.Embarassingly including one at my youngest daughters wedding .Hopefully my increased Lamotrigine medication might help.Its 450mg right now and unlike other medications I have had it has few side effects.



Hi Mike although I have not officially been diagnosed as epileptic I had a brain injury to my temporal lobe 18 months ago, and had a seizure a week before I could drive again. The neurologist said I am more likely than average to get them due to the area of the injury. So I guess you could get them as a result of a past injury. I am also on lamotrigine, but a tiny dose.

All the best to you xx


My son developed epilepsy 25 years after a skull fracture. The first seizure occurred after a long day at work followed by dragging himself to a friend's birthday party. Heathermr's comment below makes sense that the brain can only cope with so much and no more. Now we find that stress and lack of sleep are seizure "triggers" for him. I suggest you keep a seizure log and try to see what the circumstances are surrounding a seizure. You may find that stress is one of them. There is hardly anything more stressful than putting on a wedding!


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