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Talking to Your Doctor About Epilepsy

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Living With Epilepsy | Resource Guide

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with epilepsy. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Epilepsy

  • What causes epilepsy?
  • If I’ve had a seizure, does that mean I have epilepsy?
  • What are the possible complications from epilepsy?
  • Can epilepsy be life-threatening?

About Your Risk of Developing Epilepsy

  • Are there specific activities that increase my risk of having additional seizures?
  • One of my parents has epilepsy. Does that mean I’m at increased risk for epilepsy?

About Treatment Options

  • Is medication the best treatment for my epilepsy?
  • Will I have to take medication to control epilepsy for the rest of my life?
  • What are the benefits and side effects of these medications?
  • Medication is not controlling my epilepsy. Are there other treatments I can try other than surgery?
  • At what point do I need to consider surgery to treat my epilepsy?
  • Can the surgical treatment of epilepsy cause other brain complications?
  • What is the success rate for the surgical treatment of epilepsy?
  • If I do have to have surgery to treat epilepsy, which type of surgery is best for me?
  • What are possible complications from the surgical treatment of epilepsy?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that I should consider?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Are there specific activities that I may have to avoid if I have epilepsy?
  • What are the rules about driving and epilepsy? Will I be able to drive?
  • Will epilepsy affect my work?
  • Must I tell my employer that I have epilepsy?
  • Is it safe for me to get pregnant if I have epilepsy?
  • What effect do seizure medications have on the effectiveness of birth control pills?
  • What effect do seizure medications have on my other medications?

About Outlook

  • How successful is medication in controlling epilepsy?
  • Can I live a normal life if my epilepsy is controlled by medication?
  • Can I live a normal life if I have surgery for my epilepsy?
  • Are there support groups for people with epilepsy or their families?

References:

Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.

Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 19, 2012. Accessed February 22, 2013.

NINDS Epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/epilepsy.htm. Updated February 21, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.

What is epilepsy? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/whatisepilepsy/index.cfm. Accessed February 22, 2013.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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