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Causes of Seizures
June 2003

Q. I am trying to investigate the causes of seizures. I recently had my first seizure at age 35. I am relatively healthy and can't figure out why this happened. I have had all the tests done: MRI, CAT scan, EEG and consulted a neurologist. The only thing he found was my EEG was abnormal. I have been recently working on my house using a number of latex and oil based paints, plastic wood fills and some glues (liquid nails and floor adhesive). Do you know of any seizures that are caused by chemical exposure or breathing in high levels of dust (drywall or wood fill)?

A. It sounds like you have had a thorough evaluation so far. The MRI and CT scan give detailed pictures of the brain anatomy allowing us to look for anything structural such as a tumor that could be putting pressure on the brain. The EEG records electrical activity but does not identify a specific cause if abnormalities are found.

This is frustrating, but not uncommon. The possibility of chemical exposure causing the seizures could be investigated by looking for abnormal amounts of chemicals in the bloodstream such as lead. Avoiding the substances mentioned to see if symptoms clear and then repeating the EEG might also help clarify this possibility. Certain prescription drugs and "street drugs" have been associated with seizures as well.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/epilepsy.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00222

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