Do MS and Epilepsy share a link? I Have Both

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By the time I went through various tests that led to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago, epilepsy had already been part of my life since the age of 19. No one mentioned any link.

The neurologist’s words still ring in my ears. Having already told me that MS was the diagnosis, he said: “I want you to go to Walton and have a couple more tests. It’s possible that your seizures were not epilepsy at all but were due to MS instead.”

shutterstock_330752915He explained that he looked through my medical history and then said I actually had MS since my early to mid-20s. I was now 49. After the extra checks, we met again. This time his words were no more comforting. “You do have two things wrong with your brain; you have both MS and Epilepsy.” He never thought of a link between them.

Because my brother also had epilepsy but not MS,  I never really thought that they could be related. However, they are two of the most common neurological conditions, and now researchers have found that having one may lead to higher risk for the other.

Researchers in the U.K., where I was born and lived until last year, used the entire population of England to create the largest study on this topic to date.

It is apparent that MS and epilepsy occur together more commonly than by chance. One possible explanation is that an MS lesion acts as a focus of an epileptic seizure; but other possibilities are discussed.

The researchers found that patients with MS have a significantly greater risk of developing epilepsy, and so, it is important for clinicians to be aware of the risk of epilepsy in people with MS.

Additionally, the study indicated that patients who exhibited epileptic symptoms first, like me, had a greater chance of being diagnosed with MS within 10 years.

Ok, it took 25 years for me to be given confirmation of having MS but, like many people, I had various hospital visits over the years without ever learning what was wrong. The eventual diagnosis was actually a relief; at last the illness had a name.

Research Focus

This study was conceived and led by Alexander N. Allen of the University of Oxford, Brasenose College, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, U.K.

The researchers analyzed two sets of data consisting of hospital admission records from the Oxford Record Linkage Study (ORLS), collected between 1963 and 1998, along with data covering all of England from 1999 through 2011.

Epilepsy and MS are fairly common conditions and would have a reasonable chance of occurring in the same person. This study was conceived to see if the two occurred more often together than expected by chance.

The research team looked for occurrences of hospital admissions for epilepsy in people after a previous admission for multiple sclerosis. This data was compared with a control group of more than 85,000 MS patients.

The researchers found a strong link between MS hospital admissions and admission for epilepsy within 10 years. The risk increased by 4.7 times in the ORLS group and 3.9 times in the all-England group.

This study also looked at admissions for epilepsy followed by admission for MS and found a 2.5 times greater risk in the ORLS group and 1.9 times greater risk in the all-England group. These researchers concluded that MS and epilepsy may occur together more often possibly because the lesions associated with MS act as a focus of an epileptic seizure.

Conclusions from the study suggested that doctors should be aware of the connection between MS and epilepsy. The findings may also help researchers come up with additional theories related to the two diseases.


* This study was supported by the English National Institute for Health Research and was published on December 4, 2013 in BMC Neurology.


John avatar


Interesting post. I'm 54 and was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 27. Thankfully my seizures are controlled well with one medication. However, over the past ten years or so I've noticed a variety of symptoms that seem to be worsening: losing my balance a lot, constantly bumping into things (turn a corner and literally hit a wall or desk, etc., reach out for an object and hit it or something else with my hand). My balance is particularly bad late in the day. I have near daily achiness in muscles (varies) and joint pain. My vision sometimes gets blurry with no rhyme or reason. Brain fog and memory decline increasing somewhat quickly. Bad headaches.

I'm in good shape and pretty athletic, but I will lose my balance like I'm going to fall even from simply pivoting to turn while walking or picking something up from the ground. I have some mild peripheral neuropathy which might explain the balance stuff but it seems like more than that. I'm curious what your symptoms were/are?

Tim avatar


Just saw this article. Please send an email. Thanks

Tom Brown avatar

Tom Brown

Where can I find it?

Beth avatar


I have poor balance and can walk independently but am weak in my legs so I use a walker. I have chronic progressive ms which I was diagnosed with about 5 yrs ago. I have had ms for as long as I have and attribute my relatively stable status to meds and exercise. If you want to get testing for epi I think you should speak w your ms doc and get a referral to an epilepsy doc. (Epileptologist.) He/she can partner with regarding your questions.

B Ward avatar

B Ward

My father had MS for 36 years after diagnosis. He occaisionally would have a seizure which the doctor's attributed to the urinary tract infections that he continually had. He had a major convulsion episode once that they said was a stroke. Some years later they said he didn't have a stroke. I still wonder exactly what was going on with him. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 74.

Shasha avatar


Seizures can be due to eating gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO. Sugar may swell the brain/dairy may demyelinate the brain/gluten may lower nutrients absorbed so cells are not made right to work right. Soy may block thyroid and is usually GMO. People can have a stroke and heal and have MS at the same time. My MS is due to Celiac. UTI can be due to the foods I mentioned and low thyroid/low immune system. Antibiotics may hurt the gut lining and cause leaky gut in addition to gluten and low nutrients absorbed and hurt the mitochondria and lower the immune system. Nature's Way- Kidney/Bladder helped my UTI, but I didn't have UTI any more after not eating the foods I mentioned.

Carol Carmella avatar

Carol Carmella

I have always suspected that there was some type of connection between Epilepsy and MS. My dad had 4 older sisters and 3 of them had MS. He had one younger sister. He was the only boy. Then my dad developed Epilepsy as an adult. He was 44 years old when he started having 'episodes'. It took 7 long years to get a proper diagnosis. Out of the 6 children, the oldest and the youngest were the only two healthy ones. Very interesting post. Everyone has past away but the youngest one.

Kevin Bold avatar

Kevin Bold

Wow, it is always interesting to hear stories from real life
I hope they all fine now!
It`s always hard to come face to face with such problems. But how harder it is now, the easier will be later.

FrankUnderwood avatar


It`s so hard to fight alone against such a huge problem. But you all are great people. Thank you so much. God bless you all!

alfred maria avatar

alfred maria

My daughter is 5 years old and has been healthy, and has been developing at a normal rate. I heard a loud thud. I found my daughter on the floor. There was vomit on the bed and my daughter was on the floor. It lasted 15 minutes. It was so scary. she was jerking very violently, and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head. It was horrible. No one should have to see their child like that, my doctor is saying she's had seizures. she had an mri ,an EEG,they did a spinal tap. After returning from the hospital, my daughter experienced vomiting, I could not bear to see my daughter going through this problem at the early age of her life. I read a lot of fake testimonies at blogs, facebook and website of people that was cured from seizure with the help of a herbal doctor I have even been scammed severally, I explain to my friend about my daughter symptom and she told me that i shouldn't worry, she gave me a contact of a doctor called lawson I met Lawson in Chicago and i contact him. I Explain about my daughter symptom, I made an order of his medicine.. I followed his instruction, His medicine has change my daughter health in less than 3 month she is totally free from seizures and vomiting, my daughter is cured from seizure.

Natasha avatar


How can you get this medication of you are far away? Is there a link.

Samantha Salcido avatar

Samantha Salcido

In 93/94 I found out that I had epilepsy. After having a stroke... at my Brain Doc's office...thank god that his office was in a hospital... where I woke up and after awhile waiting for my Brain Doc to come in... For he to tell me.. the MRI showed that I have lesions on my brain and I'm here to tell you that you have MS. And that there are 3 ladies to come talk to you.... Really... to today.. I don't know where I am at with any of this other than I'm getting a wheelchair for my bad days of pain. My seizures or MS does not run through my family tree... My dad was under pesticide in Vietnam. I'm in totally loss of where I'm out.... On the stage of MS...

ani eloshvili avatar

ani eloshvili

samantha please contac to me my cousin has same symptomes seizuresand stroke. i have some questions

tg avatar


A possible cause, common to epilepsy and MS is cow milk and derived products. See these scientific publications:

Another common cause is aluminum, see:

Michele. Allison avatar

Michele. Allison


Azooz avatar


Me too

Brian Hasenbank avatar

Brian Hasenbank

This is really interesting to me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 19 in 1993. In March of 2019 I went to my Neurologist and told him I was having double vision. He wanted to do a MRI on the brain. He sent me to a MS specialist in Kansas City. She then wanted a Cervical Spine MRI. In July of 2019 I was diagnosed with MS. 26 years. I'm getting ready to start taking medication for the MS. I've had brain surgery in 2004 for the Epilepsy. That fixed most of the problem but was still having the aura's. So in 2013 they implanted a VNS into my chest and that seemed to take care of the majority of the Epilepsy. Haven't had a seizure since September of 2015.

Stacey McFarland avatar

Stacey McFarland

Similar case for me. Started having grand mail seizures at 19,1988. My father and his sister had father has multiple autoimmune diseases
But no MS. 10 years later started having numbness at foot and soon after hand. Then came blurry vision, then incredible pain in my eye. My neuro keep sending me for various other test for each case never putting them together. Then started having total relapses. I was unable to move about. Pain, incredible weakness felt like I was 90 over night! Instead again, recommend rehumatologist. Just Bloodwork and would rule out various infections. But due to my clinical symptoms he put me on steroids and immediately started getting better. Through the years, my cognitive abilities are diminished, lost bladder control, balance, and disabilitating tremors. Finaly Dx at 46!

Rosita Vining avatar

Rosita Vining

I’ve had MS now for 37 yrs, last yr I’ve had my first Grand Mall Seizure in my sleep, i’m None the wiser, 1st thing I knew I was stripped & in a gurney, the EMT’s told my husband I had 9 more grand Malls in the ambulance. That was 11 months ago, haven’t had another since, been on Keppra. Am I Scared. Absolutely.

Rachael Gamboa avatar

Rachael Gamboa

How often is ms and epilepsy diagnosed together? I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was in high school and put on meditation. I have started having vertigo issues which we cannot figure out. I’m wondering if there could be a correlation between the two. Is there? Could I have been diagnosed with epilepsy? Then, years down the road develop ms out of the blue. What is the likelihood that could happen? I have even looking up the possibility, but I am not a doctor and have no idea how to diagnose something like this. I am scared that is something that may happen. What percentage of the world could have something like this?

Debi avatar


I certainly don't know the percentages but I am 66 and have had epilepsy since grade school. I was diagnosed with ms when I was 25. My two sisters were diagnosed with epilepsy about 10 yrs after I and then my brother was diagnosed with ms about 15 hrs ago Since I have both I'm concerned about them I just try to stay positive and keep informed on both diseases

Chris Mcnutt avatar

Chris Mcnutt

I have controlled epilepsy. Have glaucoma. Son has MS. Maybe not regular glaucoma but neurodegenerative disorder

Siobhán Basquill avatar

Siobhán Basquill

I was diagnosed with MS aged 30, and had my first seizure last year, when I was 61. It wasn’t particularly commented on until I had a sudden fainting episode about two weeks ago, when my daughter heard a crash and found me unconscious and seizing on the kitchen floor and immediately called the paramedics. I have never recovered my memory of this seizure. The first thing I remember was being offered a bed bath in the ICU. My sister had epilepsy as a child and developed MS as an adult, and she died aged 56. The thought of the future terrifies me, not the thought of dying, but the thought of my increasing deterioration. I would be good to hear from others who might understand how it feels.


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