Medical history for epilepsy

A detailed medical history is the most important part of diagnosing epilepsy. Try to provide as much information about your seizures as you can. If you do not remember what happened, ask anyone who saw the seizure to describe what he or she saw.

The following questions can help the doctor evaluate the seizures:

  • Have you ever had seizures before?
  • How often do the seizures occur?
  • Do the seizures occur at a certain time of day?
  • Does anything seem to trigger the seizures?
  • Do you notice a strange smell or taste, flashing lights or hallucinations, or an unexplained feeling of fear or anxiety before the seizures begin?
  • What physical changes take place during the seizures? Do the seizures affect your entire body? Only one side of the body? Only the face muscles?
  • Are you able to hear and respond to things around you during the seizures, or do the seizures alter your level of awareness or consciousness?
  • How long do the seizures last?
  • How do you feel after the seizure? Confused? Tired? Do you remember having the seizures?

The doctor will also ask about past events that might put you or your child at higher risk of developing epilepsy:

  • Is there a history of seizures or epilepsy in your family?
  • Have you or your child had a head injury in the last two years?
  • Do you or your child have a history of stroke, brain tumor, infection in or around the brain (meningitis or encephalitis), or abnormal blood vessels in the brain?
  • Have you or your child been exposed to any toxic fumes, contaminated foods, lead, or other poisons?
  • Were there any problems during pregnancy or during your child's delivery?
  • Has your child ever had fever seizures?
  • Do you have a history of long-term alcohol or drug use?

Last Updated: October 15, 2009

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