What causes epilepsy?

Epilepsy can be caused by different conditions that affect a person’s brain. Some known causes include:

  • Stroke.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Brain infection from parasites (malaria, tuberculosis), viruses (influenza, dengue, Zika), and bacteria.
  • Traumatic brain injury or head injury.
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain (for example, during birth).
  • Some genetic disorders (such as Down syndrome).
  • Other neurologic diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease).

For 2 in 3 people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. This type of epilepsy is called cryptogenic or idiopathic.

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