Epilepsy - what to ask your doctor - adult

  • Definition
    • You have epilepsy. People with epilepsy have seizures. A seizure is a sudden brief change in the electrical activity in your brain. It leads to brief unconsciousness and uncontrollable body movements.

      Below are questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of yourself if you have epilepsy.

  • Alternate Names
    • What to ask your doctor about epilepsy - adult; Seizures - what to ask your doctor - adult

  • Questions
    • Should I call you, or someone else, every time I have a seizure?

      What safety measures do I need to take at home to prevent injuries when I have a seizure?

      Is it ok for me to drive? Where can I call to find more information about driving and epilepsy?

      What should I discuss with my boss at work about my epilepsy?

      • Are there work activities that I should avoid?
      • Will I need to rest during the day?
      • Will I need to take medicines during the work day?

      Are there any sports activities that I should not do? Do I need to wear a helmet for any type of activities?

      Do I need to wear a medical alert bracelet?

      • Who else should know about my epilepsy?
      • Is it ever ok for me to be alone?

      What do I need to know about my seizure medicines?

      • What medicines am I taking? What are the side effects?
      • Can I take antibiotics or other medicines also? How about acetaminophen (Tylenol), vitamins, herbal remedies? Will birth control pills still work if I am taking medicines for my seizures?
      • What are the risks of these medicines if I were to get pregnant?
      • How should I store the seizure medicines?
      • What happens if I miss one or more doses?
      • Can I ever stop taking a seizure medicine if there are side effects?
      • Can I drink alcohol with my medications?

      How often do I need to see the doctor? When do I need blood tests?

      What are the signs that my epilepsy is becoming worse?

      What should others with me do when I am having a seizure? After the seizure is over, what should they do? When should they call the doctor? When should we call 911?

  • References
    • Abou-Khalil BW, Gallagher MJ, Macdonald RL. Epilepsies. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 67.

      Foreman B, Hirsch LJ. Epilepsy emergencies: diagnosis and management. Neurol Clin. 2012;30:11-41. PMID 22284053

      Wiebe S. The epilepsies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 410.