Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. It is not contagious, and it is manageable.

Sometimes also referred to as “Seizure Disorder,” epilepsy is diagnosed after an individual has experienced two or more unprovoked seizures, meaning that the seizure did not occur as a result of a brain infection or, in children under the age of 6, a fever. Epilepsy can sometimes be diagnosed after a single seizure if a person’s EEG shows a high likelihood of seizure recurrence.

EPILEPSY CAN OCCUR FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS:

  • Structural Epilepsy results from a brain trauma, tumors, strokes, or congenital conditions that affect the structure of the brain.
  • Inability of the brain to make certain chemicals or break down certain wastes.
  • Genetic abnormalities; sometimes genetic testing is performed to identify certain genes known to cause epilepsy.
  • Idiopathic Epilepsy or Epilepsy of Unknown Cause; for many children, it is not yet possible to determine the cause of their epilepsy. As science learns more about the causes of epilepsy it is hoped that we will be able to identify the cause for all children in order to better be able to treat them.

How will I know if my child has epilepsy?

When your child has his/her first seizure, you need to take them to the emergency room to be evaluated. If the cause of the seizure is not apparent, a doctor will request tests to better understand your child’s seizure.

THESE EPILEPSY TESTS MAY INCLUDE:

  1. An EEG (electroencephalogram) is a test that records the electrical activity in the brain. EEGs can be useful in helping doctors diagnose epilepsy, determining where in the brain a seizure is coming from, and helping to predict the likelihood of seizure recurrence. During an EEG, the technician may have your child hyperventilate (by blowing on a pinwheel, for example) and flash a strobe light into your child’s face to provoke seizure activity on the EEG. This is safe and will NOT harm your child. The test will also attempt to capture your child’s brain waves when he/she is asleep so it is best to bring your child to the test when he/she is more tired than usual.
  2. A CT Scan (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which looks for structural abnormalities in the brain.
  3. A Blood Test or Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap) to determine if an electrolyte abnormality or infection is the reason for your child’s seizures.

If your child is diagnosed with or suspected to have epilepsy, you will be referred to a neurologist (a doctor specializing in brain function) or an Epileptologist (a neurologist that sub-specializes in epilepsy) for further treatment.