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Recognizing Epilepsy Signs & Symptoms


Epilepsy is a type of movement disorder that is caused by abnormal disruptions in the brain’s nerve activity. The primary symptom of epilepsy is a seizure that ranges from mild to severe. The three types of seizures include absence, focal, and tonic-clonic.

If you’d like to speak with a neurologist for a diagnosis, Find a Doctor at a Dignity Health hospital near you. Our neurology departments offer the latest tests to evaluate symptoms of epilepsy in the Bay Area.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy is defined by seizures, which vary in frequency and severity depending on the type of condition and where it starts in your brain.

Seizure symptoms generally include: 

  • Abnormal head movements
  • Change in mood or emotions right before a seizure
  • Facial flushing
  • Feeling strange immediately before a seizure
  • Inability to speak during the seizure
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Periods of staring into space 
  • Smelling odors that aren’t there
  • Tingling or crawling sensations of your skin
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations

If you or a loved one has one or more of these symptoms, meet with a doctor at Dignity Health to receive a diagnosis.

Epilepsy Diagnosis at Dignity Health

The doctor first performs a detailed physical examination and evaluates your medical and family history. You’ll talk about the details of previous seizures and what you experienced, including how often they happen and if there’s any things that tend to bring them on.

To diagnose epilepsy, your neurologist may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests

  • Blood tests help your doctor identify infections, diabetes, or anemia that may cause seizures.
  • Brain scan provides pictures of your brain, specifically to look for scars or tissue injuries and abnormalities.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a noninvasive test that records your brain’s electrical activity.
  • Electromyogram (EMG) evaluates your muscles and the nerve cells that control them. 
  • Lumbar puncture examines cerebrospinal fluid to assess brain pressure, abnormal cells or bacteria, and glucose levels.
  • Neurological CT scan provides detailed information about your brain tissue and structures.

Once your doctor determines a diagnosis, he or she creates a personalized treatment plan to fit you or your loved ones needs. Our goal is to control your seizures and improve your quality of life.

Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area offer advanced care to diagnose the symptoms of epilepsy.