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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.

Man having an EEG

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

Man having an MRI scan

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.

Doctors looking at EEG results

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

Doctor looking at a brain scan

A brain scan may help to find the cause of your seizures. The two common types of brain scan are Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerised Axial Tomography (CT or CAT).

Man looking at to sea

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

EEG scan

When someone has had seizures, and it is thought that they might have epilepsy, there are various tests that their specialist might ask for. Two of these tests are the electroencephalogram (EEG) and MRI.

Brain scan

An MRI scan will not say for certain whether the person has epilepsy or not. But alongside other information, these might help the specialist to decide if epilepsy is a likely cause of the seizures.