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cazzie's avatar

My 9 year old son will be getting an EEG next month. What can I expect?

Asked by cazzie (19341 points ) 1 month ago

During interviews with psychologists recently, they noticed that my son would stare off in the middle of the interview. He did this several times and it has raised questions in their minds about the possibility he has epilepsy. As his mother and someone who spends 24/7 with him, I am very doubtful and I think it is simply him daydreaming and getting bored with the conversation with a grown up. He is booked for this EEG next month and I have talked a bit to him about how it will map brain waves and, without mentioning the suspected epilepsy, I explained that the doctors just want to get a better picture of what is going on. I don’t know what else to say. Will there be needles? I’m thinking not, but I want to be sure before I make any promises. How long will it take? I received some very, very basic information and this letter came out of left field for me as we never discussed the possibility of epilepsy before. (And of course everything is in Norwegian so there are loads of terms I don’t understand.) Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated.

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20 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Are they going to do a 24 hour EEG? You have to ask how long it will be. Also, I assume you can be with him during it. Possibly they are going to just do a quick one and see what they find. If they see nothing they might want to do a longer one.

No needles, unless they are going to draw blood for something else. If it were me and my child, and if it is for hours, I would try not to let them do anything else besides the EEG on that day, especially nothing like drawing blood.

The EEG is just electrodes on your head, similar to when you get an EKG for your heart. It’s a bunch of electrodes in a small space, your head, and It feels a little heavy on your head, mainly because you feel tethered, and it makes it difficult for some people to sleep if they need to wear it while sleeping. His hair will get all yucked up with what they use to attach the electrodes. It washes out though, it just all is annoying feeling, nothing hurts. If he doesn’t like things on his head, like hats, he might not deal with it well. I think if you present it right he will tolerate it very well. Especially if it is a short duration one. I think they also have ones that are like hats for babies, but I am not sure the difference.

Definitely ask the specific questions to your health care provider obviously, don’t just go by answers here. Have them describe exactly what to expect.

One other thought, I don’t knowif they will try to help trigger an epilectic seizure during part of it. I’ve never heard that, but it would make sense. Maybe put on a strobe light that sort of thing. That is a total quess on my part, it just seemed logical.

Do your doctors get paid by procedure? Like America and Canada? Since you feel strongly it is not some sort of seizure I was just wondering. Also, would you treat his epilepsy if he is having seizures with medicine? If not, why bother finding out.

cazzie's avatar

They do not get paid extra for running this procedure. That would just be stupid. And of course I would accept treatment if it turned out to be epilepsy.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Stupid to me too, but that’s how it is done in USA and Canada, and I would guess other places too. Every procedure costs money here. In America the patient (or insurance) pays the doctor or diagnostic center, in Canada the government pays them. Unless the diagnostic centers are government run in Canada, that I am not sure of. I know their doctors get paid by the government. It’s not a flat salary. I was just curious.

JLeslie's avatar

FYI, if they are doing a short EEG, like 30 minutes, it often shows nothing, so don’t be surprised if the doctor wants to do another one for a longer time. Expect to be at the diagnostic center at least an hour more than the test time. A 30 minute EEG can easily be 90 minutes once they take you from the waiting room. It takes time to put the electrodes on, make sure everything is working, and then time afterwards to take them off. I only mention it, because at his age you probably want to think about his attention span, and if you want to bring anything along to entertain him if the doctor allows it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

From experience, could be several hours from the time you arrive. May include lights and sounds during the time the electrodes are on the head.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie has a good suggestion. Ask if you can bring books, DVD or toys/puzzles for him to be distracted with.

snowberry's avatar

I had one when I was about 8. They told me the usual (they were looking at my brain, no big deal, blah blah blah). I thought that meant they could read my thoughts and it scared me to pieces. I mean I was terrified because I was thinking things I thought my parents didn’t want me to be thinking. So you might want to be aware of that also. My first and only included a sleep cycle.

filmfann's avatar

I had one 14 years ago. As I recall, there was a shot. They injected a radioactive fluid. Your son will not develop super powers.
The test is painless, and quite simple. The MRI I had was 100 times worse.

cazzie's avatar

@snowberry That was my son’s first reaction, so I had to ease those thoughts and tell him it was just going to be squiggles showing activity but no one would actually hear his thoughts.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie ‘Why bother finding out.’ ?? First and foremost, if the professionals at the hospital who have been seeing my son feel the need to run this test, why would I ever refuse to run the test? Secondly, if it does turn out to be this mild form of childhood epilepsy, I will look at what the recommendations are for medication, just as I did when he was diagnosed with ADHD.

Even if a parent chose to not medicate their kid, why would they chose ignorance to a condition their child may have? That makes ABSOLUTELY no sense to me.

JLeslie's avatar

I lean towards thinking the mommy gut feeling is correct, more than the doctors idea that he might be epilectic. Certainly the doctors could be correct though. The test is not invasive or particularly uncomfortable so if you want to rule it in or out I think your should. The reason I asked if you are going to do something about it if he is having seizures, is because it sounds like it must be very mild, and some parents don’t like the idea of drugging their kids. There are some theories on diet and people can learn their triggers for seizures and avoid them. My girlfriend went through a whole battery of tests regarding something similar. her daughter and the daughter’s best girlfriend got sick and both had seizures at age 4 within days of each other. Then it seemed like she might have had a petit mal seizure again a time or two in the days following getting better from the illness, my girlfriend was not sure. They scheduled for EEG testing and some other testing, and my girlfriend was reluctant the whole way through. But, she is not you, so I just thought I would ask you the question. You aren’t reluctant.

When a woman tells me she is going for amniocentesis, but would never abort, it makes no sense to me, why do the test? I know that is not completely analogous to your situation, but the idea behind me asking is the same.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Let us know the results….

snowberry's avatar

I’d like to know what the scan says if he were to have the EEG while listening to you and your doctor in what your son experienced as a boring conversation. In other words, they need to re-create the situation in your doctor’s office.

cazzie's avatar

At our kids interactive science museum, there was a really weak version of a brain wave machine and you used it to concentrate and push a ball across a table that is connected to a magnet thing. All the while, your brain waves are being recorded by three different pens off to one side. My sons father used to do this party trick when we went there. He could flatten out all of his brain waves. You could rip off the paper and take it with you if you wanted. I always thought it was so incredibly weird that he could do that.

Adagio's avatar

I know this isn’t exactly what you asked but I just remembered when I was at intermediate school and aged about 12, I had a friend who used to have very minor epileptic seizures, she simply stood still and stared for a minute or so, not at all dramatic.

cazzie's avatar

@Adagio that’s exactly what they suspect this might be, but I think he can still hear what is going on around him, so it can’t be epilepsy. He’s done this to me several times and I ask him to repeat what I just said and most of the time he can either tell me, or he tells me what he was just daydreaming about. That’s not epilepsy.

Adagio's avatar

@cazzie I didn’t ask my friend anything about how it felt for her, whether she could hear, it was all a bit strange at that age.

cazzie's avatar

@Adagio the nature of an epileptic fit is that the person suffering it is unconscious, so your friend couldn’t have been aware for those seconds of any sight or sound around her.

JLeslie's avatar

So, I guess the doctor is doing it to rule out epilepsy more than diagnosing it, because you’re right, what you describe isn’t epilepsy. Although, he could be just hearing your last words before he comes out of his stare and even making up a day dream. Even if it’s not epilepsy he might have an unusual brain wave or go into hypnotic states more easily than most.

Adagio's avatar

@cazzie I do hope the procedure goes well for your son and you both, nothing to alarm him, hopefully the person doing it is a sensitive soul and good with kids.

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