Most people think that seizures are the only sign that someone has epilepsy. However, neurologists know that there are some signs and symptoms that can indicate epilepsy, even when people don’t have obvious seizures. These signs and symptoms help us identify potential epileptics and provide treatments that can reduce the risk of epileptic seizures.
Some signs that a person may have epilepsy are:
- Unexplained migraine or headache
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Pass out
In fact, many people have misconceptions about what epilepsy looks like. They expect large, noticeable attacks. While many people experience those obvious seizures, there are other types of seizures that may be unnoticeable to the person experiencing them or those around them. For example, in an absence seizure, the patient may appear to be looking into space. It’s easy to mistake them for daydreaming or other oversights. Seizures that affect the limbs and cause twitching and tics may seem like a muscle problem. That makes it easy for people to assume that seizures are actually something else and discount how important they might be.
Of course, there are other explanations for those symptoms as well. Migraines, for example, can simply be migraines. However, none of them fall under the umbrella of normal neurological behavior. If you experience them, a visit to the neurologist can help identify the causes of those behaviors. Identifying the cause often leads to a successful treatment plan, which can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life, even if you don’t have epilepsy.
If epilepsy is suspected, we can verify this with EEG monitoring. EEG monitoring looks at the electrical activity in the brain. It can identify signs of epilepsy even if someone is not having noticeable seizures. If EEG testing verifies these signs, a patient can begin treatment before experiencing noticeable seizures. In addition, we can monitor the results by examining the EEG results, so we can see if a drug is having the desired effect without waiting for the person to have seizures.
Sometimes patients come to us because they just know something isn’t right. It also happens that a general practitioner or paediatrician refers a patient to us for the same reason. They can’t pinpoint the cause, but they know something is wrong. If you fall into that category, give us a call. One of the ways we help patients is by identifying what’s going on so we can develop a treatment plan to provide relief.
Neurology Knowledge Center – How can we identify patients with an epileptic disorder before they have obvious seizures