How Epilepsy Is Diagnosed

What do Lil Wayne and Theodore Roosevelt have in common? Epilepsy.

Roosevelt hid his condition. But Lil Wayne was able to take a different approach, opening up about his struggles after a series of seizures back in 2013.

There is hope if you or someone you love is suffering from seizures. With the right medical advice and possibly medication, it’s possible to lead an episode-free life. But you won’t know the right route to take if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. 

Are you wondering how epilepsy is diagnosed? Read on to find out.

Review Your Medical History and Symptoms

One of the first things a doctor will do is to review your medical history. They’ll want to see if you’ve had epileptic seizures in the past and, if so, how frequently.

Doctors are also going to ask you many questions about your symptoms. They’ll want to know what happened before, during, and after the seizure. Along with the seizure itself, were there any other bodily symptoms that you were able to notice?

Was there a headache before the seizure took place? Did you skip sleep the night before?

Was there a numb or tingly sensation in your hand? All of these details are important in diagnosing the condition.

Complete a Neurological Exam

You’ll also want to understand how epilepsy is diagnosed through neurological exams.  Neurological exams are a way for doctors to test your mental abilities, motor function, and behavior.

Sometimes the neurological exam alone is enough to determine if you have epilepsy. It can even help doctors understand what type of epilepsy you may have.

How to Prepare

You’re not going to have to do anything to prepare for your neurological exam. Instead, the doctor will try to reach a diagnosis by testing your body movements and reactions.

A neurological exam can take a long time for the doctor to perform. Doctors may have to repeat parts of the exam several times to be sure of the results that they’re getting. But you shouldn’t expect any pain or discomfort during the exam.

First, your doctor will simply look at you to see if there are any visible signs of a medical problem. Then they will ask you to walk, stand up straight, and try balancing on one leg. If you have any difficulty with balance or walking, this will go towards the diagnosis.

Get Blood Work Done

It’s almost a guarantee that your doctor will also have you get blood work done. By testing your blood, your doctor will see what type of genetic conditions you might be dealing with, along with possible infections. Something non-epilepsy-related may be causing your seizures.

How to Prepare

Unlike a neurological examination; there is a little bit of preparation you will need to do for your blood test. You’ll have to avoid eating or drinking anything (but water) for 8 to 12 hours before the test. It’s also a good idea to cut down on fried and fatty foods a couple of days before the test.

Alcohol is another no-no before taking a blood test. If you’re a smoker, refrain from smoking 2 hours before the test.

In some situations, your doctor may allow you to drink a cup of black coffee on the morning of the test, but you’ll want to ask to be sure. The last thing you want is for something you eat or drink to alter the test results.

Perform an EEG

Your doctor might also suggest that you undergo an EEG to test for brain abnormalities. An EEG stands for electroencephalogram. It’s one of the most popular tests to diagnose epilepsy.

During the test, electrodes will attach to your scalp using a cap or a pasty substance. The electrodes can then record all of the activity in your brain.

Individuals with epilepsy will usually have abnormal brain waves. Even if you’re not having a seizure, doctors will be able to pick up on the abnormality.

Your doctor might be watching you on a video as they conduct the EEG so that they can record any type of seizures you experience during the test. Being able to record the seizure can help the doctor determine what kind of seizures suffering from, so they can develop the best plan of action. In some instances, doctors might even ask you to do things that will exasperate the chance of seizures, such as skip sleep the night before.

How to Prepare

Your doctor will likely ask you to avoid caffeine on the test day. Caffeine has a way of interacting with your brain, and it can skew the test results.

You should be able to take all of your regular medications but ask your doctor first. Your doctor might also suggest you Buy Neurontin, but again, it’ll depend on your situation. Always ask your doctor before stopping or taking any new medication.

We also suggest washing your hair the day before the test. Don’t use any hair cream or conditioner when washing your hair. Hair products can make it difficult for the electrodes to stick to your scalp.

Different Analysis Techniques

Part of diagnosing epilepsy is determining where the seizure is starting from in the brain. To determine the starting point, doctors will use different analysis techniques. For instance, they’re going to use electrical source imaging or ESI.

ESI can take the information from your EEG and project it onto an MRI of your brain. This helps show doctors exactly where the seizures are occurring.

Your doctor may also use magnetoencephalography or MEG to identify the magnetic fields that your brain is producing. Finally, doctors will turn to statistical parametric mapping or SPM, to compare different areas of the brain that have increased blood flow during the seizures.

Understanding How Epilepsy Is Diagnosed

Now you know how epilepsy is diagnosed. Receiving an epilepsy diagnosis can be empowering. Once you know what’s causing your seizures, you and your doctor can develop the best course of action.

Some different treatments and medications can help you become seizure-free. But, your doctor won’t know to prescribe them if you don’t have a diagnosis.

Instead of wondering if you have epilepsy, reach out to your physician today and start the process of diagnosing your condition. You don’t have to go through it alone, either. See what the rest of our site can help with.

Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.