Merck Manual

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Causes of Seizures

Causes of Seizures




Metabolic disorders

Other disorders

Inadequate oxygen supply to the brain

Near suffocation

Structural damage to the brain


Abnormalities present or occurring at birth, including genetic disorders

Fluid accumulation in the brain (cerebral edema)

Prescription medications*

Buspirone (used to treat anxiety disorders)


*Cefepime (an antibiotic)

*Chlorpromazine (used to treat schizophrenia)

Ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic)

Chloroquine (used to treat malaria)

Clozapine (usually used to treat schizophrenia)

Cyclosporine (used to prevent and treat rejection of organ transplants)

Imipenem (an antibiotic)

*Indomethacin (used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation)

*Meperidine (used to relieve pain)


Theophylline (used to treat asthma and other airway disorders)

Tricyclic antidepressants

Illicit drugs

Withdrawal of a medication or substance after heavy use

General anesthetics (used during surgery)

Exposure to toxins


* Various medications can cause seizures if too much is taken. In some people, certain medications can make seizures more likely to occur by making nerve cells in the brain easier to stimulate. These medications are thought to lower the seizure threshold.

Phenytoin, used to treat seizure disorders, can cause seizures if too much is taken.