Diagnosing Epilepsy (14 Steps)

Diagnosing Epilepsy

It is estimated that epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide. In the United States,  over 2 million people are living with the disease and in Brazil, the number is  more than 3 million. If you think you may be a carrier of the disease, the article below will help you to diagnose it.

Part 1: disease Understanding

 1. Know what is epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a neurological disease that causes seizures and mainly affects the nervous system.The disease commonly starts during childhood, although it can appear later in life. Sometimes it happens because of  genetic causes , while others causes may be   brain injury.


 2. Learn what happens.

In epilepsy, the neurons do not emit electrical signals properly. Neurons communicate by transmitting electrical signals. When these signals are not transmitted on a regular basis, there is an electrical chaos in the brain, which causes seizures.

Understanding Seizures

3. Look for symptoms.

Seizures are one of the symptoms, but there are other behaviors too that may indicate the disease. For example, epilepsy causes strange behavior, such as emotions for no apparent reasons or strange sensations throughout the body.Just because you have seizures, does not mean you have epilepsy. Even if they seem equal, epileptic seizures are not caused by failure of neurons, but usually by stress. Seizures can occur due to abuse of alcohol or drugs, but can also be caused by other problems in the body, such as low blood sugar, excessive trauma or high fever.

What causes Epilepsy

4. Know the signs of a seizure.

Seizures can vary from absence seizures, also called partial or focal (petit mal),  to the generalized or tonic-clonic (grand mal). Generalized seizures cause stiffening of the entire body, which also suffer repetitive and violent movements. It is possible that the patient produces strange sounds during the convulsion, stop breathing for a while and lose control over the bladder or intestines. With the end of the seizure, the person feels confused and remains in this state for some time. This type of seizure reaches the brain as a whole.

Partial or focal seizures affect only some parts of the brain, causing similar repetitive movements, but only one or two areas of the body. They can also cause confusion, though it may not happen always. Furthermore, they can also generate strange feelings, like the sudden feeling of being “full”.

Absence seizures or focal seizures are much smaller events, leaving the person staring for some time or blinking excessively


5. Understand Categories

There are four categories of epilepsy:

  • Idiopathic generalized, partial idiopathic, generalized symptomatic and partial symptomatic epilepsy. The idiopathic generalized epilepsy is often genetic, and usually symptoms begin in childhood or in youth. This type of epilepsy is not related to brain abnormalities, but can cause various types of seizures.
  • Partial idiopathic epilepsy can also be genetic, and starts earlier than idiopathic generalized epilepsy. This type of epilepsy is not as serious as the others, causing seizures only during sleep, and children usually can overcome it as they grow.
  • The generalized symptomatic epilepsy is related to brain trauma, usually caused at birth. In fact, “symptomatic” epilepsy means that they have no known cause. Sometimes the disease types in this category are called “cryptogenic,” meaning probably epilepsy has a cause, but the doctor could not find out what it is. Often accompanies other neurological problems such as cerebral palsy, and can cause various types of seizures.
  • The partial symptomatic epilepsy is the most common type that occurs in adulthood, although it can also appear earlier. It is also caused by some type of trauma to the brain, leading to abnormalities such as infections, tumors or stroke. This type of epilepsy can be treated by brain surgery where the problematic part of the brain is removed.

Classification of Epelyptic Seizures

Most known types of epilepsy is in one of these categories. For example, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is defined as generalized symptomatic epilepsy.

                                  Part 2 : Consulting a Doctor.

 1. Find out if you are at risk.

You may be at risk if you had damage, tumor or brain infection, stroke or any genetic condition that affects the brain. However, most cases of epilepsy has no known cause.

2. See the doctor if you have any kind of seizure.

He is the best person to diagnose what type of seizure that strikes it.

3. Report other possible causes.

If you come with seizures, the doctor needs to know if there is something beyond that epilepsy could be the cause, such as abuse of drugs or alcohol. Remember that stress and lack of sleep can cause seizures, but also fail to take doses of certain drugs.

4. Be prepared.

Ask your doctor if the tests you will perform require special preparation such as fasting

5. Wait for neurological tests.

Before any test, it is likely that the doctor examine to see if your movements, behaviors and mental abilities are not compromised.

Types of Simple Partial Seizures

Part 3: Knowing what tests will be performed

1. Make an electroencephalogram (EEG).

An EEG helps the doctor identify how electrical signals are being transmitted.During the test sensors that record brain activity will be placed on your scalp.Most of the time, you will get relaxed, but the doctor may order some activities, such as deep breathing.  Basically, the doctor wants to know if the neurons are transmitting electrical signals correctly or if the transmission is impaired, causing the convulsions.

2. Do blood tests.

They can help identify any other condition that is causing the seizures, such as infections.

3. Make CT or Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

This examination can point to part of the brain that is failing and causing the seizures.For the examination, the doctor will begin with a radioactive material injection.The injection of positrons react with the electrolyte body. This test can also determine whether there is another problem rather than epilepsy.

The doctor may also order a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and both will help to identify brain abnormalities. The single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) can be used if the EEG or MRI indicate no brain problem. Similarly computed tomography positron emission tomography, the examination will begin with a radiation injection, and then the circulation of the blood and the brain will be examined.

Epelyptic Tests

4. Ask for a lumbar puncture

.Through the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, this test can help the doctor determine the existence of epilepsy.

During lumbar puncture, you will receive local anesthesia and should remain in a certain position, such as the fetal position. The fluid will be removed from his spine and analyzed to collect more information.

[ MORE ABOUT : Seizures ]

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