Thursday, April 11, 2024

EMS Neurological Emergencies - Seizure Disorder Causes

The causes of seizures can vary widely and may depend on factors such as age, medical history, genetics, and environmental influences. 

Here are some common causes and risk factors associated with seizures:

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. It can have various causes, including genetic factors, brain injury, infections, developmental disorders, and structural abnormalities in the brain.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Head injuries, such as those sustained in motor vehicle accidents, falls, or sports-related injuries, can lead to seizures. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can disrupt normal brain function and increase the risk of seizures.

Brain Tumors: Tumors in the brain can cause seizures by interfering with normal brain activity or increasing intracranial pressure. Seizures may be a presenting symptom of a brain tumor.

Strokes: A stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, can lead to seizures, especially if the stroke affects certain areas of the brain responsible for regulating electrical activity.

Infections: Infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis, encephalitis, or brain abscesses, can trigger seizures. These infections can cause inflammation and damage to brain tissue, leading to abnormal electrical activity.

Genetic Factors: Some seizure disorders have a genetic component, meaning they run in families. Mutations in certain genes can predispose individuals to develop epilepsy or other seizure disorders.

Metabolic Disorders: Metabolic imbalances, such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), electrolyte abnormalities, or kidney or liver failure, can provoke seizures by disrupting normal brain function.

Drug or Alcohol Withdrawal: Abrupt discontinuation of certain medications, especially anti-epileptic drugs or benzodiazepines, can trigger seizures. Similarly, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can lead to seizures in chronic alcoholics.

Toxic Exposure: Exposure to certain toxins, such as lead, carbon monoxide, or certain chemicals, can impair brain function and induce seizures.

Developmental Disorders: Some developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy, are associated with an increased risk of seizures.

It's important to note that not all seizures have a clear identifiable cause, and in some cases, the cause may remain unknown (idiopathic). 

Proper evaluation and diagnosis by a healthcare professional are necessary to determine the underlying cause of seizures and guide appropriate treatment and management strategies.

Further Reading:

Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice Volume 2 (6th Ed) Pearson.

Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Online Resources:


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