Acute Symptomatic Seizures and Systemic Illness

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Purpose of Review:

This article addresses the occurrence of acute symptomatic seizures in the setting of many medical illnesses.

Recent Findings:

Many medical illnesses can cause seizures. Metabolic derangements, such as disorders of serum glucose metabolism, cause seizures, as well as other neurologic manifestations. Many medicines (such as antibiotics, antivirals, antidepressants, and antipsychotics), whether used at typical doses or in overdosage, can lead to acute symptomatic seizures.


Acute symptomatic seizures occur most often in illnesses that directly injure the brain. Trauma, stroke, CNS tumors, and CNS infection very commonly cause seizures. However, many medical illnesses do not directly injure the brain but lead to neurologic signs and symptoms, such as seizures. Recognizing these effects, especially in critically ill patients, is important for optimizing medical care.

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