Your Doctor Visit
What your doctor will ask you about: a “funny feeling” before orafter the attack, changes in vision or hearing, changes in your abilityto move, headache, fever or chills, stiff neck, tongue biting, loss ofconsciousness, loss of bladder or bowel control, palpitations, troublebreathing, nausea or vomiting.
Your doctor will want to know if you or anyone in your familyhas had any of these conditions: diabetes, hypertension, alcoholism, birth trauma, previous meningitis or encephalitis (braininfections), epilepsy, drug abuse, severe head trauma, chronic kidneydisease, stroke.
Your doctor will want to know if you experienced a head injuryprior to the convulsions, and if you may have eaten or drunkpoison.
Your doctor will want to know if you’re taking any of these med-ications: alcohol, anticonvulsants, insulin, diabetes medications, bloodpressure medications, sedatives such as Valium, antidepressants.
Your doctor will do a physical examination including the fol-lowing: blood pressure, pulse, temperature, thorough head exam tocheck for injury, thorough eye exam, checking your mouth for evidence of tongue biting, checking your neck for signs of stiffness, listening to your heart with a stethoscope, thorough skin exam, testingreflexes and movement.
WHAT CAN CAUSE CONVULSIONS, AND WHAT IS TYPICAL FOR EACH CAUSE?
What is it: A brain disorder characterized by recurrent convulsions
Typcal Symptoms: Recurrent convulsions, sometimes family history of epilepsy
What is it: An inherited disorder that leads to an inability to process a substance known as phenylalanine; now tested for at birth with a heel stick
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions associated with developmental retar-dation, malformations frombirth; convulsions normally begin before 4 years of age
Cause: Tuberous sclerosis
What is it: An inherited disorder that involves the skin and nervous system; characterized by facial rash, benign tumors of many organs, and mental retardation
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions associated with developmental retardation, malformations from birth; convulsions normally begin before 4 years of age
Cause: Birth injuries
What is it: Varied, include cerebral palsy
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions associated with developmental retardation, malformationsfrom birth; convulsionsnormally begin before 4years of age
Cause: Brain injury
What is it: Trauma to the brain
Typcal Symptoms: Severe head injury usuallycausing a fracture or penetration of the skull; convul-sions can begin monthsafter injury
Cause: Low blood levels of anticonvulsant medication
What is it: The result of a missed dose or of taking a new medication that interfereswith the anticonvulsant
Typcal Symptoms: No symptoms other than convulsions
What is it: A rupture or blockage in the blood vessels supplying the brain
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset of paralysis in one or more regions of the body, typically with aloss of consciousness, more common in olderpatients; can then lead toconvulsions
Cause: Hypertensive encephalopathy
What is it: Brain disease caused by high blood pressure
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions in people with a history of high bloodpressure, often associatedwith headache, blurredvision, stupor
What is it: Examples: meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions associated with fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, sometimes stupor
Cause: Fever (child)
What is it: Elevation of body temperature, generally above 102 degrees F
Typcal Symptoms: Convulsions that appear in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 yearsassociated with a suddenelevation of temperature
Cause: Overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or barbiturates
What is it: Taking too much of the drug, or stopping completely after a longterm habit
Typcal Symptoms: In the case of withdrawal from alcohol, for example, convulsions occur within two days after you stopdrinking
Cause: Brain tumor
What is it: An abnormal growth of cells in the brain
Typcal Symptoms: Sudden onset of convul- sions; may be associatedwith severe and persistentheadache, nausea, andvomiting; more common inolder patients