If you or someone you love is experiencing seizures, it’s important to understand why they are occurring and what can be done to prevent them.

Seizures may be brought on by certain situations and/or may occur in a pattern. Keeping track of any factors that may have occurred prior to a seizure—called seizure triggers—can help you recognize when a seizure might occur. By avoiding or minimizing your triggers, you can help lessen your chances of having a seizure and be better prepared for when they do occur.

Common Triggers

Some people can readily identify their triggers. For example, their seizures may occur only during sleep or when waking up. For others, seizures may be triggered during times of high activity, stress or sickness. Additionally, seizures may occur consistently as a result of specific stimuli, such as flashing lights or noise (called reflex epilepsy). Some of the more commonly reported triggers include:

  • Missed doses of anti-seizure medications
  • Specific time of day or night
  • Lack of sleep/tiredness
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Illness
  • Flashing bright lights or patterns
  • Alcohol use or alcohol withdrawal
  • Use of certain medications, including some over the counter (OTC) medications
  • Recreational drug use, including use of cocaine
  • Menstrual cycle or other hormonal changes
  • Dehydration (not enough fluids), low blood sugar (such as from going too long between meals) and vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Specific foods, excess caffeine or consumption of other products that may aggravate seizures

Recognizing Triggers

A trigger occurs fairly consistently before seizures. Just because a situation triggered a seizure once or twice doesn’t mean it will always trigger a seizure.

To identify your triggers, keep a seizure tracker. Each time a seizure occurs, note the circumstances, including the time of day and any other commonly reported triggers from the list above.

If a certain situation happens fairly consistently before your seizures, find out if your seizures also occur in the absence of that situation. Once you have identified a suspected trigger, note when that suspected trigger occurs, both with and without a seizure occurring. This will let you see how often the suspected trigger happens with seizures as well as without.

Share this information with your doctor, who can help you identify ways to avoid your triggers or to minimize their effect.

Contact Us

Please fill out the fields below, and we will contact you.


Thank you for contacting Memorial Hermann. We have received your inquiry, and a team member will contact you soon.

If you need more immediate assistance, please call us at (713) 222-CARE.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.