Epilepsy

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Epilepsy (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes you to have seizures. Your brain contains many neurons (nerve cells). Normally, the neurons send small electrical signals to each other and to your body. A seizure is a sudden change in how the neurons send electrical signals. The change affects how you move, think, and feel. Your brain cannot function normally until the electrical signals return to normal.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Medicine used to treat epilepsy may cause slurred speech, fever, rash, clumsiness, drowsiness, or increased seizures. You could get an infection or bleed too much if you have surgery. Vagus nerve stimulation can cause hoarseness or throat discomfort.

  • If your epilepsy is not treated, your health, quality of life, and ability to function may greatly change. Epilepsy can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Blood tests:

You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

Tests:

You may have one or more of the following tests:

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray and computer are used to take pictures of your skull and brain. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.

  • EEG: This test is also called an electroencephalogram. Many small pads or metal discs are put on your head. Each has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine prints a paper tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of your brain. Caregivers look at the tracing to see how your brain is working.

  • Lumbar puncture: This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. During a lumbar puncture, you will need to lie very still. Caregivers may give you medicine to make you lose feeling in a small area of your back. Caregivers will clean this area of your back. A needle will be put in, and fluid removed from around your spinal cord. The fluid will be sent to a lab for tests. The tests check for infection, bleeding around your brain and spinal cord, or other problems. Sometimes medicine may be put into your back to treat your illness.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your brain. It will also take pictures of the blood vessels and structures in your head. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood. Remove all jewelry, and tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.

  • PET scan: A PET scan shows the areas of the brain that are causing the seizures. It also shows how much blood is flowing to an area of the brain.

Treatment:

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Surgery: Brain surgery may be done to treat epilepsy. Ask your caregiver for more information about surgery done on the brain.

  • Vagus nerve stimulation: A small device sends electrical energy to the brain through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a large nerve in the neck.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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