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Frequently Asked Questions On Epilepsy


Q: What is the best way to diagnose epilepsy?

A: The diagnosis of epilepsy is essentially made on clinical grounds. A clear eyewitness account of the fit is the most important factor in the diagnosis of epilepsy. Investigations like electroencephalogram (EEG) are helpful but the diagnosis is largely based on the clinical history. Even in the most experienced hands, many cases of epilepsy are incorrectly diagnosed while some cases of epilepsy are often missed. Other investigations like CT and MRI scan are helpful in finding the possible cause for epilepsy in many cases. Some other investigations like SPECT, Long-term Video-EEG, and neuro-psychological testing are helpful in selected cases only.

Q: How can you diagnose pseudo-seizures?

A: The description of these seizures in association with peculiar circumstances most often is helpful in the diagnosis. Many times the diagnosis can be extremely difficult but with modern technology it is now possible to diagnose pseudo-seizure in almost all the cases. We now utilize the technique VIDEO – EEG in which the manifestations of the fit are recorded with a video camera and EEG is also recorded simultaneously. Such patients do not exhibit any EEG abnormality during the fit. Once a correct diagnosis is arrived at, these patients with pseudo-seizures can then be managed accordingly.


Myths & Facts

Epilepsy is due to the effect of "evil spirits" or "supernatural powers". It is also a form of "madness". So, epilepsy should be treated by faith-healers, sorcerers (witch-craft) or in a
lunatic asylum.

Epilepsy is a disease of the brain. Hence, epilepsy should be treated by neurologists, epileptologists, physicians and paediatricians.

One should never touch a patient having a seizure in order to avoid the disease being passed on to you.

If a patient is having a seizure, he/she needs your help and care. Epilepsy cannot be passed on to others by touching the patient.

An epileptic seizure can be terminated by putting a key in the patient's hand or by making a patient smell onions or a dirty shoe.

None of these non-medical measures are of any use. Family members and teachers should be made aware of first-aid measures required during a seizure.

Children with epilepsy are dull and cannot learn. They should not be sent to school.

Children with epilepsy can be extremely intelligent. It is usually ignorance about various aspects of epilepsy that prevents parents from sending their children to school. Many times the teachers also have misconceptions and do not encourage children with epilepsy to attend school.

Treatment for epilepsy with modern medicines is ineffective and expensive.

"Seizures" or "fits" that occur in epilepsy can be completely controlled by using a single, inexpensive medicine in 60-70% patients. Another 15-20% patients can be helped by the use of new, but slightly expensive drugs. A few cases can be successfully treated with surgery. Epilepsy can even be cured in some cases.
The Brain

No Seizures & No Fits