|How do I get an initial
There are many different types of seizure, it may depend on the type of seizure that you have as to how quickly you or those that care for you, realise that there is a problem that needs investigation.
Seizures such as tonic-clonic may be easier to identify because even if you have no recollection of what happened during the seizure, you will probably feel awful when you come round, with a headache, nausea, a bitten tongue or another injury such as a bumped head.
A natural reaction to seeing a first seizure with someone having convulsions, who was previously not known to have Epilepsy, is to rush them to hospital.
Nobody likes a fuss made of them and a visit to casualty can be very embarrassing for people that already have Epilepsy. It is therefore very important for people with Epilepsy to tell other people, so that they know what to do during a seizure.
A visit to casualty will normally result in a letter to your GP and a suspected or observed Epileptic seizure recorded. In more serious cases, such as a seizure or seizures that last longer than 30 minutes with no regaining of consciousness (known as status epilepticus), you will be admitted for treatment.
If you have more than one seizure with convulsions, then you will be referred to a hospital where there is a consultant qualified to make an initial diagnoses of Epilepsy, after undergoing tests to see if you have Epilepsy.
Other forms of Epilepsy maybe more difficult to diagnose or even notice. For example, not all children at school that 'daydream' are actually day dreaming, some are having another sort of seizure, that causes a momentary loss of concentration of sometimes only seconds.
If there is any possible evidence that you or someone that you care for has Epilepsy, it is best to write a record of both the nature and the frequency of these 'seizures'.
From your observations the GP will be able to refer you to a appropriate consultant so that they may confirm or deny your condition.
|What to do before, during
and after your appointment.
Stay calm, this is true of every doctors appointment!
Before you go read your observations (or those that your friends and families have made), about possible seizures.
Click on some of the links to Epilepsy websites and read up on current treatment of Epilepsy and any tests that you may have.
Make a list of all your questions, even if you think they are silly - write them down! It is better to ask a silly question than to not know the answer. If you have been waiting a long time for an appointment and you have lots of questions, work down your list one at a time or give the doctor list.
Bring a pen or pencil to write down the replies, then you don't have to worry about trying to remember everything. It is also best if you can go with another person and you each have a copy of your questions, so they can take notes too.
Take to your appointment all medication you are currently taking, appointment card and diary.
If you have Epilepsy and the hospital stops sending you appointments for over 2 years, talk to your GP about it. If a consultant discharges you then s/he should tell you and why. If you have not been told assume that it is a clerical error and ask your GP to refer you again. People with Epilepsy should be regularly monitored, to see if the drug given to treat the Epilepsy needs adjusting.
If you are going to an appointment prepared with the items suggested above, you should be on your way to having a successful appointment. If it goes badly, try and identify what went wrong. Did the Doctor intimidate you, did you panic and get flustered. Write down what went wrong this time and see if you can keep it in mind when you are getting ready for the next one.
If you feel that you have been badly treated by a doctor, tell your GP about what happened. Your GP will receive a summary of the treatment you received, so that he can treat you correctly. Some towns have Epilepsy nurses who can help too. If you are very unsatisfied with your treatment ask your GP to refer you else where, although you may have to pay privately.
|What is an EEG?
An EEG (electroencephalography) is a test which records the electricity from the brain. About 25 electrodes, that look like small silver disks are stuck to the scalp, using quick drying glue or a special paste. Each electrode is attached to an amplifier by a long wire. The amplifier magnifies the small electrical signals detected by the electrodes, this signal is recorded and looks like rows of zig zags.
This test does not hurt and does not involve any electricity going in or out of the brain. During the recording you will be made comfortable on a bed and asked to open and close your eyes. You may also be asked to breathe deeply, to look at flashing lights and striped patterns.
The results of this test help doctors to check for particular types of electrical activity that occur with people that have certain types of Epilepsy, such as absences.
|What is a MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The machine used to do an MRI uses a powerful magnet and the patient lies with their head inside the machine for about 10-20 minutes. The results of the scan are analysed by a computer which gives a very detailed picture of what the brain looks like.
A MRI can detect small abnormalities in the brain which are the cause for the Epilepsy. MRIs are also used to assess whether a patient is suitable for surgery. MRIs are a painless and safe way of scanning the brain.