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diagnosing epilepsy

Because there is no obvious sign a person has epilepsy, unless they are having a seizure, it can make diagnosing epilepsy difficult. A diagnosis is usually made after a person has had more than one epileptic seizure.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces guidelines for treating specific health conditions, in England and Wales. If there is a possibility that you have epilepsy, NICE recommends that you are referred to a specialist, (a doctor who is trained in diagnosing and treating epilepsy) within two weeks.

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How epilepsy is diagnosed

To diagnose epilepsy, doctors gather lots of different information to assess the causes of seizures.

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Tests for epilepsy

Blood tests, an Electroencephalogram (EEG) and scans are used to gather information for a diagnosis. Tests on their own cannot confirm or rule out epilepsy.

A woman taking a EEG

EEG (electroencephalogram)

An EEG (Electroencephalogram) is one of the tests used to help diagnose epilepsy.

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Seizure treatment

If you have just been diagnosed with epilepsy, you may have questions about medication and treatment.

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Just diagnosed

Information to support you through a diagnosis of epilepsy.

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All about epilepsy

All about epilepsy is a programme that explains epilepsy, how it is diagnosed, what seizures look like and how you can help someone who is having a seizure. 

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Reactions to a diagnosis

A diagnosis of epilepsy can affect people in different ways. Getting information about epilepsy and asking questions can be helpful for some people.

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Epilepsy diagnosis and its impact on mood

You may feel numb, angry, confused or frightened. Or you may be relieved what’s been happening to you has a name and a treatment. Everyone has their own way of reacting to being diagnosed with epilepsy.