Can sleep deprivation, low blood sugar, or a fever actually lead to a seizure? It may seem like a bit of a laundry list – however, “According to the Epilepsy Foundation, nearly 10 percent of Americans have a seizure at some point in their lives, and they can occur at any age.”
First of all, what exactly is a seizure? “A seizure occurs when the normal electrical activity of the brain becomes disrupted.” During this period of interrupted brain activity, one could experience one of two types of seizures. The first type of partial seizures is called a simple seizure – during these kinds of seizures, the victim does not experience a loss of consciousness. The other type of seizure is called a complex seizure. In the event of a complex seizure, the individual that is seizing typically loses control of their bodily functions, suffers from slight to severe shaking, and is rendered unaware of their surroundings. Auras may also be experienced during a seizure. These symptoms can last as long as 3 minutes.
So, what causes a seizure? “Epilepsy is a nervous system problem that causes seizures (and) it can develop at any age.” For an epileptic especially, the sleep cycle causes significant changes in the electrical and hormonal activity of the brain. This in turn, could link sleep deprivation to the provocation of seizures.
Although epilepsy is the leading cause of seizures, they can also be caused by a number of other preexisting health conditions, such as:
- A rapidly heightened fever
- Low blood sugar levels in diabetics
- Brain damage from strokes or head injuries
- Withdrawals from medications or alcohol
- A severe infection such as encephalitis or meningitis.
- Brain tumors or aneurysms
- A parasitic infection such as a tapeworm or toxoplasmosis.
How does this affect drivers? Drivers could very easily fall victim to these circumstances due to the nature of their lifestyles. Oftentimes, they’re fighting off fatigue, living nutritionally inconsistent lifestyles, and aren’t receiving regular healthcare due to a lack of health insurance. Not only is the health of drivers potentially affected by this, but the safety of every driver on the road is as well. “Researchers from Johns Hopkins University studied death certificates to figure out how many cases of fatal car crashes because the driver experienced a seizure. The researchers found that 0.2 percent, or 86 of more than 44,000 fatal car crashes, was seizure related.”