Only a minority of epilepsy cases present clear causes. The most common causes of epilepsy are linked with trauma or injury to the brain. These include brain damage at birth or from accidents during adolescence, brain tumours, brain infections (eg. meningitis and encephalitis), scarring (sclerosis) of brain tissue, and strokes. In addition, a strong family history of epilepsy increases the risks of having the disease.
Certain factors can also trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. These include forgetting to take seizure medications, heavy alcohol consumption, drug abuse (including cocaine, ecstasy), lack of sleep (insomnia) and use of drugs that interfere with seizure medications.