You'll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, who may refer you to a neurologist.
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment:
- Write down any symptoms you have experienced. Include any that may seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment. If you have experienced different kinds of seizures, make a particular note of that. Do they affect different sides of the body? Do some affect speech and others not?
- Make a list of all medications. Include vitamins and supplements you are taking, including dosages. Write down the reasons any were discontinued, whether because of side effects or lack of effectiveness.
- Ask a family member to come with you to the doctor. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who goes with you may remember something you missed or forgot. Also, since memory loss can happen during seizures, many times an observer is able to better describe the seizures than is the person who's had them.
- Write down questions. Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together.
Some basic questions to ask include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Will I likely have more seizures? Will I have different types of seizures?
- What kind of tests do I need? Do they require any special preparation?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Are you prescribing medication? If so, is there a generic alternative?
- I have other medical problems. How can they be managed together?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Is surgery a possibility?
- Will I have any restrictions on my activity? Will I be able to drive?
- Are there brochures or other printed materials that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Did you notice any unusual sensations before the seizures?
- How often do the seizures occur?
- Can you describe a typical seizure?
- How long do the seizures last?
- Do the seizures occur in clusters?
- Do they all look the same or are there different seizure behaviors you or others have seen?
- What medications have you tried? What doses were used?
- Have you tried any medication combination?
- Have you noticed any seizure triggers, such as illness or lack of sleep?
- Has anyone in your immediate family ever had seizures?
Your physical may include a neurological exam, which will assess:
July 03, 2013
- Muscle strength
- Sensory skills
- Hearing and speech
- Coordination and balance
- Seizures and epilepsy: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/detail_epilepsy.htm. Accessed April 19, 2013.
- Frontal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/syndromes/frontallobeepilepsy.cfm. Accessed April 19, 2013.
- LaFrance WC Jr, et al. Differentiating frontal lobe epilepsy from psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Neurologic Clinics. 2011;29:149.
- Benbadis SR. Localization-related (partial) epilepsy: Causes and clinical features. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- O'Muircheartaigh J, et al. Epilepsy and the frontal lobes. Cortex. 2012;48:144.
- Surges R, et al. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy: Mechanisms, prevalence, and prevention. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2012;25:201.
- Leach JP, et al. Modern management of epilepsy. Clinical Medicine. 2013;13:84.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed April 19, 2013.
- Hirsch LJ, et al. Video and ambulatory EEG monitoring in the diagnosis of seizures and epilepsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Englot DJ, et al. Rates and predictors of long-term seizure freedom after frontal lobe epilepsy surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2012;116:1042.
- Wiebe S, et al. Epilepsy surgery utilization: Who, when, where, and why? Current Opinion in Neurology. 2012;25:187.
- Lazow SP, et al. Outcome of frontal lobe epilepsy surgery. Epilepsia. 2012;53:1746.
- Morrell MJ, et al. Responsive cortical stimulation for the treatment of medically intractable partial epilepsy. Neurology 2011;77:1295.
- Prunettia P, et al. New and forthcoming anti-epileptic drugs. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2011;24:159.
- eCommunities. Epilepsy Foundation. http://epilepsyfoundation.ning.com/. Accessed April 19, 2013.
- Living with epilepsy. Epilepsy.com. http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/living_epilepsy. Accessed April 19, 2013.
- Wells RE, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use among U.S. adults with common neurological conditions. Journal of Neurology. 2010;257:1822.
- Schachter SC. Complementary and alternative medical therapies. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2008;21:184.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..C2009-0-40427-6--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0434-1&uniqId=364938937-2. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Nicoll D, et al. Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=56995240. Accessed April 22, 2013.
- Devinsky O, et al. Alternative Therapies for Epilepsy. New York, N.Y.: Demos Medical Publishing; 2012.
- Levy RG, et al. Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001903.pub2/abstract. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Gloss D, et al. Cannabinoids for epilepsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009270.pub2/abstract. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Wyllie E, et al. Wyllie's Treatment of Epilepsy. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011:771.
- Scheffer IE, et al. Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. Brain. 1995;118:61.
- Sirven JI (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. April 25, 2013.
- Wang A, et al. Functional magnetic resonance imaging for language mapping in temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Research and Treatment. 2012;2012:198183.
- Von Oertzen TJ, et al. Prospective use of subtraction ictal SPECT coregistered to MRI (SISCOM) in presurgical evaluation of epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2011;52:2239.
- Miller RD, et al. Miller's Anesthesia. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06959-8..X0001-5&isbn=978-0-443-06959-8&uniqId=410621892-4#4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06959-8..X0001-5--TOP. Accessed May 7, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.