Could Epilepsy

If you had a collapse or an episode of bizarre behavior or some similar event, might have had a seizure. This brochure provides information about what your doctor will want to know, and what tests may be advised after the event. There are different types of epilepsy. Other leaflets in this series include: "Epilepsy – A General Introduction", "Epilepsy – Partial Seizures ',' Epilepsy – Seizures Absence Child", "Epilepsy – living with epilepsy", "Epilepsy – Treatments", "Epilepsy – tonic-clonic Seizures', 'Epilepsy – Dealing with a seizure "," Epilepsy – Contraception / Pregnancy Issues Epilepsy', 'and' sudden unexpected death.

Sometimes it's hard to be sure if you have had a seizure. (. Older words for seizures are seizures and attacks) The problem is that other conditions can cause symptoms similar to an attack – for example: fainting, panic attacks, collapses due to heart problems, apnea attacks in children and other less common problems.

Some of the questions you and your doctor may need to answer are:

  • It was the case of an attack?
  • If it was a kidnapping, was due to epilepsy or some other cause?
  • If there is an attack, what was the cause of the event?

On this page

  • What is a seizure?
  • What is epilepsy?
  • Getting the diagnosis right
  • The specialist and testing
  • What if it is an attack?
  • Learn more
  • References

A seizure is a brief episode of symptoms caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Typically, a seizure lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes.

The brain contains millions of nerve cells (neurons). Normally, nerve cells are constantly sending tiny electrical messages down nerves to all parts of the body. Different parts of the brain control different parts and functions of the body. Therefore, the symptoms that occur during a seizure depend on where the explosion of electrical activity in the brain occurs.

There are different types of seizures but they fall into two main types – generalized and partial:

  • Generalised seizures. This happens if there is a burst of abnormal electrical activity that affects the entire brain. Affects consciousness, and can cause a seizure.
  • Partial seizures. Partial seizures are also called focal seizures. In these types of seizures electrical activity of the burst begins and remains in a part of the brain. Therefore, it tends to be localized (focal) symptoms. Different parts of the brain control different functions, so symptoms depend on what part of the brain is affected. Partial seizures may not affect consciousness, and can affect the feelings, emotions, behaviors, muscles, or combinations of these.

If you have epilepsy, it means that you have had repeated seizures. If you have a single attack, does not necessarily mean you have epilepsy. About 1 in 20 people have a seizure at some point in their lives. May be the sole produced. The definition of epilepsy is a seizure.

Epileptic seizures arise from within the brain. An attack can also be caused by external factors that can affect the brain. For example, a high fever can cause a febrile seizure. Other causes of the crisis are: the lack of oxygen, a low sugar level in the blood, certain drugs, poisons and a lot of alcohol. Seizures caused by these external factors are not classified as epilepsy.

The most important part of making a diagnosis is to have a clear picture of what happened. This is both for the person concerned, and if possible, an eyewitness.

It can be difficult for a doctor to say definitively that you have had a fit if the description is not typical. For example, sometimes a faint short can cause stiffness of the body followed by a couple of jerks of the arms and legs. This may seem like a spectator to be a short attack, but not an attack. The doctor may ask questions to try to find the cause of what happened. If your doctor is not sure about the cause of the event, you may be referred to a specialist.

The specialist will have to go through the history of what happened. Below is a list of the kinds of questions that may be asked. Try going through the answers before your appointment:

  • What exactly happened before, during and after the event?
  • Did you lose consciousness?
  • Were you confused before or after the event?
  • Do any of your body parts shake? If so, for how long and in what form?
  • Do you bite your tongue or urinate?
  • How long will it last?
  • Did you have any unusual sensations or emotions feeling before the event?
  • Do you have any other symptoms at all, although seemingly unrelated?
  • If you had taken alcohol, drugs or illegal drugs before the event?
  • Has something like this ever happened before?
  • Does anyone in the family have epilepsy?
  • Have you had head injuries or illnesses that affect the brain in the past?
  • Did you feel well before the event or you feel sick, dizzy, hot or anxious?
  • Can you think of something to explain what happened?

It is very useful for the specialist, whether a person who saw what happened is going with you to the appointment. Sometimes, the specialist can cause the event description and discussion only. Sometimes, further testing is recommended. These may include the following:

  • A brain scan – usually magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) – may show abnormalities that affect the structure of the different parts of the brain.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG). This test records the electrical activity of the brain. Special stickers in various parts of the scalp. Are connected to the EEG machine. This amplifies the small electrical messages emitted by the brain, and records their pattern on paper or computer. The test is painless. Some types of seizures produce typical EEG patterns. However, does not exclude normal recording epilepsy, and not all EEG abnormalities are associated with epilepsy.
  • Blood tests and other tests may be advised to see their general welfare. They can also look for other possible causes of the event.

Although useful, the tests are not foolproof. You may have epilepsy with normal test results. Also, if there is an abnormality in a brain scan, no evidence that causes seizures. However, testing can help determine whether the event was an attack, or caused by something else.

Sometimes, no cause can be found signing to explain the event. Your doctor may advise you to wait and see if it happens again in doubt about the diagnosis.

Even if an attack is diagnosed, it may be the only one ever. For this reason, it is not diagnosed epilepsy after a single attack. The definition of epilepsy is recurrent seizures. Other leaflets in this series provide information on the different types of epilepsy.

Epilepsy Action

New Anstey House, Gateway Drive, Leeds, LS19 7XY
Helpline: 0808 800 5050 Web:

Epilepsy Society

Chesham Lane, Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, SL9 0RJ
Helpline: 01494 601 400 Web:

Epilepsy Scotland

48 Govan Road, Glasgow, Scotland, G51 1JL
Helpline: 0808 800 2200 Web:

Epilepsy Wales

PO Box 4168, Cardiff, CF14 0WZ
Helpline: 0800 228 9016 Web: