Talking to Your Doctor About Epilepsy
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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
- 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 developing epilepsy?
- 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 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 undergo 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?
- 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 undergo surgery for my epilepsy?
- Are there support groups for people with epilepsy or their families?
Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster; 2000.
Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/ .
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed Feburary 2010 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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