Seizures occur when ordinary highly complex brain activity is suddenly disrupted. Recurrent seizures (Epilepsy) occur due to intrinsic disturbance of neuronal function within the brain.

Any person’s brain has the capacity to produce a seizure if the circumstances are appropriate. Most brains are not likely to do this spontaneously and can therefore, be said to have a high “seizure threshold” or high resistance to seizures. Individuals vary as to their threshold and it is probably due to their genetic characteristics. A person with a low threshold might develop epilepsy spontaneously without other factors being involved. Sometimes a predisposition to seizures can be seen in some families where several members are affected.

But the genetics of epilepsy are not straightforward. In some individuals the existing seizure threshold may be lowered if the brain is subjected to unusual stimulation (such as certain frequencies of flickering light and some drugs) or is injured. If the injury is severe e.g. due to road traffic accident, infection, birth trauma, stroke or tumor, then epilepsy may develop as a consequence.

Many individuals attribute the onset of their seizures to some relatively minor event such as a blow to the head or an emotional upset. Although these cannot be completely discounted, in such cases it is likely that family predisposition to seizures plays a more important role.

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