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Hi. I think I had an epileptic seizure. Two days ago I just fell and started to shake. I can`t remember it well. But people around me looked pretty scared. How can somebody tell if I suffer from epilepsy? What are the symptoms? How is epilepsy being diagnosed?

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Hi. Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent unprovoked (epileptic) seizures. If you`ve had a seizure, it doesn`t have to mean you have an epilepsy. Maybe it was non-epileptic seizure. Diagnosis of epilepsy requires the presence of this symptom, an epileptic seizure. The diagnosis is usually made on the base of your medical history. You will have to run through some tests, such as EEG, brain MRI, SPECT, PET and magnotoencephalography. On the base of these tests you will discover an etiology for the epilepsy, the affected brain area, and you will be able to classify the epileptic syndrome. However, long term video EEG monitoring is the base of every diagnosis. NES and epileptic seizures are very similar. This means a full diagnosis of epilepsy will require a definite categorization of seizures.
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Epilepsy is generally diagoned after individuals have had 2 or more seizures or other epileptic attacks, not caused by psychological triggers, drugs or fever.

This is an general idea your physician has, He will probably direct you to a neurologist or epilepsy center for further diagnosis.

Normal diagnostic routes would be:
-A consult (trying to figure out if you have a fever / were ill to prevent wrong diagnosing (seizures can be instigated by high fever (mostly in cases dealing with children), check if you used stimulating drugs (mostly cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, high amounts of caffeine (yes cola and coffee can cause seizures but you will have to drink liters) and others)
- An EEG (little stickers are placed on your head and a film is made during a certain amount of time (normally 30 minutes in an hospital or epilepsy center), with and without flashing lights), in certain cases a 24 hour or even a 7-day EEG is made if attacks are very sporadic, in case of nightly seizures a sleep EEG could be suggested these last 3 are specialized scans and normally only done in epilepsy centers..
- An MRI if there is no prior history to check for damage/tumors or other ophysical trauma (normally in a hospital)
- Another consult. (with your normal doctor OR the neurologist).

In 70% of all cases ppl having epilepsy can be made seizure free through medication. For others there are some other possible treatments... Your neurologist can tell you more. Finding the correct medication is an trial and error system. Fatalities due to epilepsy are very rare and mostly caused by environmental coincidences (swimming and an epilepsy attack or driving a car or a bike in a busy area). SUdden unexpected Death by EPilepsy (SUDEP) is really very rare, and mostly associated with seizure-series or -clusters or permanent (stasis epilepticus) attacks.

Don't worry, you'll be fine! For a chronic illness it's a good one cause you'll be out cold when it goes wrong... so you won't sufffer very much.

Symptoms after an attack: bitten tongue and/or inner cheeck, muscle aches, headache, tiredness, sometimes nausea and often amnesia. possibilty of scratchmarks due to shaking over a rough surface (carpets for eaxample are not so good, leading to first and second degree friction burns in bad cases) and falling damage (don't be on a ladder all day!) take care using machines & certain powertools (chainsaws,and circular saws, or when ironing your wash)

Greetz,

Ronald
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Oh and in most countries if you have a diagnosis epilepsy your driver's licence is suspended for a certain period. If you have epilepsy and still drive and you cause harm during a seizure it's often a criminal offence and most of the times insurances will ask a higher fee. Driving while banned will make an accident during an attack manslaughter in the netherlands and leave you with a huge debt as you are most probably sued for damages. (also other ppl in your car coudl get hurt or killed.... ) so be wise and ask your physician.
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