Diagnosis, treatments, and ways to cope with this complex disorder
“Diagnosis of epilepsy is purely clinical,” says Dr. Joshi. “The EEG is a good supportive test, and in difficult cases, a video EEG may be needed.” If your child has had seizure activity, his or her doctor will recommend an EEG to watch brain wave activity. Video EEG and longer EEG monitoring may be needed to help your doctor tell the difference between seizure look-alikes and actual seizures. The doctor may also order a blood test and a CT scan or MRI to assess brain structure. She may even call for a lumbar puncture (or spinal tap). Your doctor will also ask a lot of questions to help determine what type of seizure, or seizures, and epilepsy your child has to accurately treat your child.
Adam’s mom, Sara—who is also a registered nurse—recommends that parents keep a seizure diary for their child. “I would advise parents to closely watch and time the behaviors that you are concerned might be seizure activity,” she says. “Write them down and videotape them if you can. ‘What time of day do they occur?’ ‘What was the child doing prior to the event?’” This information, she says, is most helpful in determining what type of seizure(s) your child has.
(There are roughly 11 different types of seizures and at least 16 different types of epilepsy that must be considered when making a diagnosis, and each child’s case is going to be different from the next. Learn more about the different types of seizures here.)
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