Epilepsy Program: What to expect on your first visit
At the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, we enlist our mulltidisciplinary team of epilepsy specialists to ensure that you receive a correct diagnosis and to optimize your care.
Epilepsy is different in each individual. That’s why we plan our first meeting with you carefully. We want to get to know you and to understand the unique aspects of your case.
We also want to make the most out of your first visit to our program.
Understanding your case
We provide patients with a "new patient" questionnaire to help our physicians learn about you and your condition. This questionnaire helps us to better understand what’s going on and how to treat you.
The form includes such questions as:
- When did your seizures start?
This can help doctors look for factors that may be responsible for the seizures.
- What are the various types of events that accompany the seizures, or occur before or after the seizures?
For example, is there a warning or an aura prior to the seizure?
- How often do your seizures occur?
- Do you experience any "suspicious" events, such as periods of confusion, unexplained tongue bites or incontinence?
- Are there any triggers for your seizures?
These can include stress, sleep deprivation, menstruation, flashing lights, alcohol or drug use.
- Do you have any issues with sleep, depression or anxiety?
These problems can coincide or be worsened by epilepsy.
- Do you have any risk factors for seizures, such as a family history of epilepsy, previous head injury, dementia, brain infection or vascular diseases?
These conditions increase the risk of developing epilepsy.
- Do you have any video of yourself having a seizure?
If so, please bring it to your first patient visit. Viewing the video may help us learn more about your condition. It’s also a good idea to bring a family member or friend who can provide eyewitness accounts of your seizures.
- Have you had any prior EEG (electroencephalogram) studies?
If so, please bring those reports or the actual tracings to your appointment.
- Have you had any prior imaging?
Please bring the report or, better yet, bring the images on a disc.
- Have you had prior relevant surgeries, such as brain surgeries or implanted stimulators for seizures?
Please bring your medical records, including those that pertain to any surgeries.
We also need to know about any previous treatments you’ve had for epilepsy, such as medications you’ve tried. Please bring all current medications with you to your appointment or information about them, including the dose, brand or generic name.
It’s important to take precautions while you receive treatment to bring seizures under control.
California is a mandatory reporting state. That means the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has the authority to place a person's driving privilege on probation in lieu of suspension, or to revoke the driving privilege, due to medical conditions characterized by lapses of consciousness. Drivers licenses may be reauthorized after a period of sustained freedom from seizures or lapses of consciousness.
Other temporary safety precautions may be necessary, including avoiding swimming, caring for young children or work that involves scaling ladders or operating heavy machinery. Your doctor will discuss precautions that relate to your unique circumstances.
Making a treatment plan
Your doctor will outline the next steps. These may include:
- Brain imaging
- Seizure medication adjustments
- Routine EEG, 24-hour ambulatory EEG or admission to the UC Irvine Health epilepsy monitoring unit
These tests are done to confirm or characterize seizures or to prepare for surgery or receiving a neurostimulator.
- Neurostimulator programming adjustments
- Lab tests, including seizure medication levels and vitamin D levels
- Hormonal interventions
- Dietary counseling
- Sleep study
- Psychologist referral
It’s helpful to prepare for your return visit, too. Your doctor will want to know:
- How many seizures have you had since your last visit? What types of seizures?
- Has there been any improvement?
- Are there any issues with medications, such as side effects?
- Have you experienced any problems with mood or sleep?
- How often have you used caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or drugs?
Many patients find it useful to keep a log of seizure activity to track the events and circumstances surrounding a seizure. This information can be extremely useful for your doctor. It also can help to identify previously unknown triggers.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 714-456-6203 or request an appointment online.