In some cases, seasonal allergies can increase a person’s risk of having a seizure. Some research suggests a connection between allergic diseases and epilepsy.

Seasonal allergies, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, occur dues to an allergic reaction to pollen. Some allergy symptoms may aggravate seizures in people with epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures.

Certain research suggests that children who experience allergic rhinitis are more likely to develop epilepsy. However, this research is not specific to seasonal allergies.

Read on to learn more about the link between seasonal allergies and seizures.

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Doctors do not fully understand the connection between allergies and seizures. However, research has suggested that increased inflammation in the body due to allergic reactions may make someone more prone to seizures.

It is also possible that an underlying condition causing inflammation could cause both allergies and seizures. However, at present, there is not sufficient evidence to prove these theories.

Some of the ways that seasonal allergies affect the body may trigger seizures in individuals with epilepsy. For example, allergies may make a person lose sleep or feel stressed. Both of these are potential seizure triggers.

In general, seizures are more likely to occur in those with epilepsy when they are ill or are physically or mentally run down.

People who experience seasonal allergies also have an increased risk of anaphylaxis. This a severe allergic reaction that can sometimes cause seizures, although this is not a common symptom.

Therefore, a person who has seasonal allergies may experience anaphylaxis due to a different allergic reaction. However, it is very rare for an allergic reaction to pollen to be severe enough to cause anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis: Symptoms and what to do

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face or mouth
  • wheezing
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • a fast heart rate
  • clammy skin
  • anxiety or confusion
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • blue or white lips
  • fainting or loss of consciousness

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
  2. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  3. Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
  4. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.

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Additionally, some of the medications people use to treat allergies can cause seizures. Examples of these drugs include antihistamines, particularly diphenhydramine. People with seasonal allergies who have epilepsy should avoid these medications and speak with a doctor about which medications are suitable for them.

There are several different types of seizures that people living with epilepsy may experience.

Epilepsy seizures fall into two main categories: focal onset seizures and generalized seizures. Their symptoms are as follows:

Focal onset seizures

Focal onset seizures affect one area of the brain, and people sometimes call them partial seizures. Within this category, there are focal aware seizures and focal impaired seizures.

Possible symptoms include:

  • sudden unexplained emotions
  • a sense of déja vu
  • seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that are not really there
  • weakness
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • an inability to move or speak
  • a change in awareness levels
  • a blank expression
  • being unresponsive or responding in an unusual way

Learn more about focal onset seizure.

Generalized seizures

Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain. Several types of seizures fall under this category, and symptoms may vary.

Symptoms may include:

  • a blank expression
  • being unresponsive
  • slight muscle twitching
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle stiffening
  • repeated muscle jerking
  • falling down or dropping the head
  • a loss of consciousness

Learn more about generalized seizures.

The most commonly reported seizure trigger is stress. Doctors do not fully understand why stress can lead to seizures, but it has links to several other potential seizure triggers.

For example, these triggers can include a lack of sleep, anxiety, and sickness. They can all have associations with seasonal allergies but also with other health conditions and life experiences.

Other common seizure triggers include:

  • alcohol consumption
  • menstruation
  • certain birth control pills
  • missed medication

Learn more about common seizure triggers.

Seasonal allergies are very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 25.7% of adults and 18.9% of children in the United States experience them.

A person with epilepsy who also experiences seasonal allergies may find they have more seizures when there is a lot of pollen in the air. This can happen at any time of year but is most common during spring, summer, and early fall.

Seasonal allergies may be more likely to trigger seizures if they are severe, as the body may be under more stress. This may lead to other common seizure triggers, such as stress and lack of sleep.

Anyone who experiences a seizure for the first time should seek immediate medical attention.

If a person with epilepsy thinks that seasonal allergies may be triggering seizures, a doctor may be able to prescribe medication to control allergy symptoms. Additionally, if someone with epilepsy experiences any new symptoms, they should contact a doctor immediately.

Individuals with epilepsy may find that seasonal allergies trigger seizures. This may be due to the stress from the symptoms as well as a possible lack of sleep and being generally run down.

There is no specific type of seizure related to seasonal allergies, but symptoms could trigger any kind of seizure. There is also evidence that those with seasonal allergies may be more likely to develop epilepsy in childhood.

Anyone who has epilepsy and is experiencing seasonal allergies may want to contact a doctor to help control allergy symptoms.