Diagnosing Epilepsy

Diagnosing epilepsy takes time. There are several diseases and disorders that include seizures as one of their symptoms. There are even other symptoms that may look like a seizure but are actually a different issue. It is always important to rule out other issues because they may need different treatments in addition to the treatments for the seizures. Some may even be fatal if not treated correctly. Here are some of the key steps that doctors take to make an accurate diagnosis for epilepsy.

Tracking Seizures

If a patient has two seizures close together, they will be put on anti-seizure medication while medical staff tries to identify the cause. Any subsequent seizures will be tracked. It is important for the patient, their friends and family, and their medical staff to note any possible causes, such as medication or food.

During this time, doctors will perform thorough examinations of the patient. They will order blood tests, allergy tests, and brain scans to rule out other possible disorders.

Obtain an EEG and Other Imaging Tests

One of the most important indicators of true synchronous seizures can be found by electroencephalogram, or EEG, data on the patient’s brain during a seizure. The EEG machine reads the electrical currents in the brain and maps them out on a chart. If the waves from different parts of the brain have very similar spikes and troughs, it means that the patient is having epileptic seizures.

Doctors also use the information from MRIs and CT scans to determine if a tumor or structural brain abnormality is causing the seizures.

Isolate Possible Triggers

Seizures can be categorized based on where in the brain they occur. Some types of epileptic seizures do have a known trigger, even if they can’t be tied to a certain disorder. For example, some people get seizures when stimulated by flashing lights or loud repeated sounds. Others may have seizures after eating certain types of food. Knowing if a person has triggers can help reduce future seizures. It can also help doctors determine if there are other diseases or disorders causing the seizures.