How long after head injury can seizures happen?

I had a serious head injury over 2 years ago July 2012. My doctor mentioned I had slightly higher risk of having seizures and to avoid alcohol for a year. I assumed after the year I no longer had higher risk of having seizures. By the way I have not had any seizures. I have been reading about them after head injuries and it says some can happen as many as 10 years after. Is this true? If so what's the longest time after head injury seizures can happen? Just wondering as it sounds like any seizures after the first week means it's epilepsy so would effect your life especially as I'm just waiting to get my driving licence back after going through an assessment.

I have had the odd alcoholic drink after the first year and been fine so carrying on as normal now just interested to hear chances of a seizure now.

25 Replies

  • Where the brain is concerned there is no set time or pattern to these things... Docs may identify the risk and they will either happen at some point or they won't.

    The best we can do is take good care of ourselves... listen to medical advice, arming ourselves with proper information so that we can make informed choices about how we live our lives, and by paying attention to our physical and emotional health. The aim is probably to get the right balance of risk avoidance while living the best life we can.

    Not sure that has answered your question though... sorry ;)

  • I made a conscious decision to stay away from alcohol and tobacco after my ABI which was 2.5years ago, mainly because of the anxiety my family went through during the critical period and my desire to avoid anything which could jeopardise my 2nd chance.

    It's been hard at times, especially coping with the craving for ciggies, but it's ultimately worth it for the peace of mind.

    I sometimes wonder if we should just live as we choose and take the consequences but it's a very personal decision although, if in serious doubt, moderation might be the best option.

    The likelihood of seizures is anyone's guess so I would avoid reading about stuff which may never, ever happen. And even if they did they would be dealt with, and you could reconsider you lifestyle at that point.

    Good wishes x

  • Almost a year for me after the injury, the seizures began. And would still continue to this day without my dealer/local chemist.

    Hey ho, when life gives you melons, giggle at the double entendre and get on with it.

  • A Neurologist assumed I had subclinical seizures when i was in a coma and was the reason I wasn't coming out of the coma (all though no tonic clonic evidance). I was in a life threatening condition and could not be transported to a hospital where EEG could be done so was started on anticonvulsants and apparently came out of coma within days after so it was thought the medication had done it. But then I had to surrender my driving licence for a year. As I had no further fits I got it back after a year but it is a 3 year medical review licence. I was on anticonvulasants for nearly 3 years but because of side effects with the Dr I decided to wean off them. However I know the risk of epilepsy continues because of the lesions that are in my frontal brain. Whether termed as a fit, seizure or epilepsy it actually means the same thing and yes have one fit and you are not allowed to drive in Uk until you have been fit free for a year which can be because medication is commenced which then preventing the fits. Like the others I avoid anything that could trigger and and also declined one particular antidepressant medication because it could exacerbate fits. Again my understanding is the risk is there and it never goes away regardless of how many years have gone by and the fits could suddenly start many years on or never.

  • Hello Strawverry

    I started on a mood drug a few months ago called mirtazapine - do you know if this is one of the ones that can cause a seizure ?


  • Hello Jules , I've been on mirtazapine since May this year as an antidepressant ,as far as I know it wouldn't cause a seizure as my GP wouldn't have put me on it , as when in hospital for 4 months in 2012/2013 I had 2 seizures , thankfully not had one since . I hope this helps you x

  • Hi

    I guess your right - did you read Stawberrys response ?


  • Hi Julesgettingthere. Your tablet packet should have an information sheet with it which lists it uses, possible side effect, interactions etc. And most importantly to remember is that although lots of side effects are often listed that most of us don;t suffer them or if we do just one or two and not all of them (just look at the side effects of an over the counter tablet like paracetamol which will list quite a few side effects but most of us take it without suffering any). By law any side effect that has been experienced has to be listed. Mirtazapine is the antidepressant they want to put me on but in the info under 'cautions' it lists epilepsy and under side effects it states 'convulsions'. That doesn't mean that it will cause you (or me) any problems but in a minority it might but there is no way of knowing who! Depends on your personal situation as to whether you already have epilepsy, or have and area of brain damage that you have been told could potentially cause you to become epileptic (although just because you have e.g lesions doesn't mean that you will). If you have been taking the mirtazapine for a few months without any problems then that is, I would thin, a good indication that you are ok with it. If say, a year on, you have a fit it is unlikely to be due to the Mirtazapine it would just have been what could happen for any of use post brain injury - tomorrow, in a year, in a few years or many years on. Even if you are already being treated as epileptic with anticonvulsants and it hasn't increased your 'fits' then it seems like you are tolerating it ok and not experiencing that side effect. Would be interested to know what your epilepsy risk factors are as may help me consider a decision whether to try Mirtazapine or not as I am still suffering big mood problems which at the moment no other antidepressant has helped at all. It is such a hard decision because I am struggling to manage with my mood keep yo yo ing into severe depression for no apparent reason but I am scared that I will be one of the minority that would suffer the side effect of a convulsion if I take it and having had a year of not being able to drive I don't want to be in that situation again. What ever you do don't just stop taking the Mirtazepine without discussing with your Dr because suddenly stopping medication can cause withdrawal problems too. x

  • Hi StrawberryCream

    They say a risk of epilepsy of 2% for 10 years (from post accident 4 years ago).

    Hope it helps -



  • Thank you for that info re % risk. Whether it applies to my situation I don't know because I didn't have a traumatic brain injury accident. My frontal lobe brain damage was caused by bacterial meningitis & septicaemia, abscesses, celebrities and strokes (all on same occasion). Now have gliosis and deep seated lesions along with quite extensive frontal brain damage. My 'fit' risk is complex partial seizures. X

  • Hi Strawberry,

    Oh you poor thing. Mine was a hit to the frontal lobe, but im just a little slow sometimes, memory problems and a witch for no reason.

    Yesterday was a bad day, couldn't shift the dullness in my head and cried myself to sleep with my husband. We have been close to ending things recently because of me. Today im bit better and enjoying being able to talk to you and people like you.

    writing conversations is so much easier for me than trying to talk to people face to face - I guess thats the same for some others on this site also.

    I work for an animal shelter and they told me this morning they resuced a deer - before the accident that would have been my job.

    But, it does put things in perspective for me a little, that poor animal isn in a far worse place than me.

    Sorry, guess im still a little down today.


  • I am with you with what you say and how life is difficult now. And yes the mood issues do strain relationships and it's hard to cope with ourselves and for husbands, children, friends or others to understand, accept or support I think is nigh on impossible.

    I have a dog and I find his company a great comfort as he just snuggles up and responds to me how ever I am. Animals are great for unconditional love. Hope you can continue to keep your job at the animal shelter.

  • Hi

    Yes, I have a dog and cats also - couldn't continue without their input. They don't 'class' you they make me feel needed.

    I was just reading the other post regarding starting of his own business. I find once i have completed a task for work i am exhausted. My brain cloggs and and i cant think. I wouldn't have the energy or concentration needed. But i suppose, even before the accident i was putting my whole self into work so wouldn't have gone down that avenue anyway.

    I find accompanying my husband walking the dog on the beach therapeutic, especially on crisp bright days like today.

    I exploded an egg last night (it explodes if left dry U found out). Shame really because i still have a desire to cook.

    One last thing - i stopped smoking for 'stoptober' has anyone else ?


  • Well done Jules for stopping smoking and hope you are able to continue with that. Having always been a worker which started when I was at school with babysitting and shop Saturday job I then entered professional careers as a nurse for 28+ years then followed my heart to be a foster career. However, since my BM and subsequent frontal brain injury I have not been able to work as my executive dysfunction means I struggle to even manage day to day life for me and my 8yr old son. I admire those who are setting up/managing their own business but like you even the smallest thing to deal with result in cognitive fatigue and further deterioration of my functioning and I become unsafe as my mind not focused! Like you I find dog walking a great therapeutic activity. X

  • It would be a very lonely place without this forum wouldnt it.

    Hope you have a 'good' day today x

  • Yes it would' it is a great way to chat with people who understand. I wish there was a Headway group in my area as I think I would find that helpful too as have become v socially isolated. Ditto re the good day wishes x

  • Julesgettingthere I replied to your message to me but did it under muzzyden post so you may not get notified that I responded so please scroll down a couple of messages. seeing your response to Keeley I see you are concerned you may have had two fits recently. If so then your GP should arrange for you to have an EEG which will check out if you are having 'fit' activity in your brain. x

  • Hi

    I struggled on like you for 3 years - I really really didn't want to go onto tablets for my moods. I couldn't tell you if they help, all i really feel is i put up with more on my plate.

    I think i have been on them for about 3/4 months now.

    I am worried about loosing my licence if they are fits - i am still working part-time - if i loose that then i have lost everything that what left and thats not a lot to start with.


  • I can empathise with how you feel as I don't feel I fit too well with life now with my frontal brain injury problems. I particularly find the emotional problems hard to manage and because people don't understand eg when I cry for little reason, I have found it best to socially isolate myself to manage them. I have be tried on quite a few different tabs and nothing has worked. Think this is how I am to be forever as I think the emotional control pathways in my frontal brain have been damaged by lesions etc. and yes life was very limited and difficult when I couldn't drive as a single parent of a young son and no one else to provide transport. My advice is you must get checked out about whether or not you have had fits because to continue to drive if you are having fits would be seriously dangerous for you and others. X

  • I'm so glad you asked that question. It is now just over 20 months since my TBI, and so far have been lucky enough not to have one! It was on my question list for my neurologist next time I see him. Every other person I know is on certain medication for seizures, so wonder if I'm going to get them! Thank you. Let's hope and pray together that we remain the lucky ones x

  • Hello Keeley

    Its the anniversary of my accident this Sunday at 5pm.

    I am not sure, but i think i might have had 2 recently - put it down to the drugs previously, but am seeing the GP on Tuesday as I am worried.

    I am worried that if it is seizures that if i just ignore them that they themselves one day might cause damage.

    I stopped drinking alcohol completely about 18 months ago.

    Can anyone tell me if that is the case ?



  • From what I've researched (I've been diagnose as epileptic from a low grade brain tumour) seizures have to occur frequently over an extended period of time and usually be severe to cause any further damage to the brain.

    Although any seizure is serious it may well be easily controlled by drug therapy and adopting an appropriate life style (for me tiredness, stress, anxiety and pressure from certain social situations can trigger them). I'm not medically qualified and only repeat from what I've researched.

    A frank discussion with your GP especially if the GP is one who knows your full history and has had regular contact with you should put your mind at rest and if relevant will highlight to you any specific risk relevant to you that your particular circumstance may cause.

    Everybody's brain is slightly different as are the causes of the problems experienced and so it difficult to generalise. You don't say what leads you believe that you have had a seizure but I can tell you that my own experience show's that some of the side effects of medication can mimic symptoms of partial seizures and all it may take is a change in the medication or advice on the best time or way of taking the medication.

    I have found sometimes a chat with the Pharmacist (not the counter staff) will often resolve medication concerns, my local pharmacy regularly have routine discussions, with the pharmacist, in a private room about regular medications, making sure you know what they're actually for and the best way to take them and the routine to use.

    Hope this is of some reassurance and help to you.




  • My epilepsy started about 5 months after the brain haemorrhage, but yeah I think you're right with the whole 10 years thing.

    Just be cautious, seizures suck.

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