Everyone who has epilepsy, or thinks that they have epilepsy, must visit a doctor for consultation. It will help the doctor if you take someone with you who was present during your seizure, as they can explain what it looked like.
The doctor will ask various questions, like:
- What do the seizure look like?
- How long do the seizures take?
- How do you feel before and after the seizure?
Usually a doctor can draw a conclusion about the types of seizures you experience from the answers given. If they are still not sure, they may request medical tests such as an EEG or MRI, which give definitive information about what happens in your brain.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): An EEG is a test that records the electrical activity of the brain. Special sensors (electrodes) are attached to the head and connected by wires to a computer. The computer records the brain’s electrical activity on the screen as wavy lines. The person may be asked to hyperventilate or to look at flashing lights so as to activate brain discharges. A seizure can be seen by the changes in the normal pattern of the brain’s electrical activity. Most EEGs can be run in about an hour or less.Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): To search for the cause of your seizures, the doctor may request for an MRI scan. The MRI takes pictures of the inside of your brains with the help of a magnetic field. The images are extremely precise, and may for example show a tumor or damage in the brain which could be the cause of the seizures. It may be necessary to get an injection (contrast) before the test, to help the MRI scans reveal more. Afterwards, you will be asked to lie down on a narrow bed. They will position cushioned pads on either side of your head to keep it still. It is important that you lie as still as possible during the test so as to get clear pictures without movements. The technician will roll the bed inside a shaped tube and they will give you guidance through each step. Once in the tube, you will not feel anything except for the cushioned pads around your head, but you will hear a series of knocking sounds. The duration of the scan depends on the area in the brain which the doctor wants to examine. This could take twenty minutes or longer.