When a disorder is defined by a characteristic group of features that usually occur together, it is called a syndrome. These features may include symptoms, which are problems that the person will notice. They also may include signs, which are things that the doctor will find during the examination or with laboratory tests. Doctors and other health care professionals often use syndromes to describe a person's epilepsy.
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Epilepsy syndromes are defined by a cluster of features.
These features may include:
- Type or types of seizures
- Age at which the seizures begin
- Causes of the seizures
- Whether the seizures are inherited
- The part of the brain involved
- Factors that provoke the seizures
- How severe and how frequent the seizures are
- A pattern of seizures by time of day
- Certain patterns on the EEG (electroencephalogram), during and between seizures
- Brain imaging findings, for example, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan
- Genetic information
- Other disorders in addition to seizures
- The prospects for recovery or worsening
Not every syndrome will be defined by all these features, but most syndromes will be defined by a number of them. Classifying a person's epilepsy as belonging to a certain syndrome often provides information on what medications or other treatments will be most helpful. It also may help the doctor predict whether the seizures will go into remission (lessen or disappear).
My doctor has told me I have an epilepsy syndrome, but we can't find a treatment to control my seizures. What do I do now?
- Consider seeing an epilepsy specialist or having an evaluation at an epilepsy center to explore other treatment options, such as surgery, devices, dietary therapy, new or add-on seizure medications, or a clinical trial.
- Keep asking questions so you get the right tests and right treatment for your type of seizures and epilepsy.
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