Diagnosis

After a child has a seizure, the child should be closely watched by doctors for signs of epilepsy. The doctor will want to know about the child's medical history and may ask:

  • About the mother's pregnancy and delivery
  • If the child has had a high fever or serious head injury
  • If any relatives have epilepsy
  • If the child does a lot of staring, not paying attention or breath-holding

The doctor will also ask for details about any seizures, such as what they looked like, when they occurred and how long they lasted. The more information you can provide, the better. Below are two forms that can help you do this. One describes the kind of information about a seizure that is helpful for a doctor, such as if and how a child was moving, if the child's eyes were open or shut, skin tone or color, etc. The other is a log where you can record the date, time and other important information about the seizure. If your child is with other caregivers or in school, you might want to give them these charts too.

The doctor will also perform a complete medical exam. This will probably include a number of tests, some of which may need to be scheduled separately. Tests and exams could include:

  • A blood test
  • An EEG (electroencephalogram) to measure electrical impulses on the brain
  • A CAT scan or MRI to take a "picture" or image of the brain

Click here to go to the Diagnosis 101 section of this website, which will take you through each step in the diagnostic process and help you know what to expect.

After the exam, tests and a period of observation, your doctor will determine whether or not your child has epilepsy or possibly another condition. If your child has epilepsy, you will want to work with your doctor to classify what types of seizures your child is having and then discuss different treatment options. You should also consider whether your child's symptoms and characteristics (age, seizure frequency, family history and other factors) fit a certain kind of syndrome or pattern.

Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 2/2014