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About Epilepsy

Diagnosis

Epilepsy - The Diagnosis

The first port of call is usually the GP who, if there is a suspicion of epilepsy, refers patients for the expert opinion of a hospital consultant. This specialist is likely to be a consultant neurologist but could be a consultant physician who may have a specialist interest in epilepsy.

During your first appointment, the specialist will likely take detailed notes of the events which have been happening, as described by either you or a reliable witness.

The consultant will most likely ask you or your companion any or all of the following questions:

The answers to these questions will help the doctor come to an accurate diagnosis and so make sure that the correct treatment is given to suit the type of epilepsy diagnosed.

During the consultation the doctor will give you a physical examination, testing such things as heart rate, balance, eye control and reflexes.

The diagnosis of epilepsy is based on what you and a witness tell the doctor. There is no actual set test for epilepsy.

You will probably have an EEG (electroencephalogram) and this may help the doctor decide what type of epilepsy you have. Some people will have a CT (computerised tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan, either of which may help identify a cause of epilepsy in some people.

At your follow-up appointment, if you are told that you have epilepsy and that you will be taking medicine as treatment, and if you hold a driving licence, the doctor will advise you to inform the driving licence authority of the diagnosis and to stop driving.

Consultants often will not have a lot of time to explain all about epilepsy and when you leave the consulting room with the diagnosis, no doubt you will have many questions that you would like to ask. The answer here lies in using the expertise of an Epilepsy Specialist Nurse. Where appointed these nurses are usually hospital based and help provide continuity of care. They act as a contact point, liaising between specialists and GPs. They can monitor seizure control, adverse effects of medication and advise on issues of day to day living.

Epilepsy is as common as diabetes and asthma. With as many as 1 in 103 people affected, epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder.

Drugs prescribed by doctors for the treatment of epilepsy do not offer a cure for the condition but a means for controlling seizures.

Getting the diagnosis of epilepsy can be daunting or confusing, so MREA have put together a comprehensive guide to keep you informed.