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How to Talk to Your Doctor about Seizure Clusters: Six Tips for Making the Most of Your Physician Visits

Doctor and Patient Talk

Have you ever left your doctor’s office only to realize you forgot to ask a critical question? Or felt your mind go blank as soon as you stepped into an examining room? If so, you are not alone. Talking to a physician about managing seizure clusters – or seizures that happen one after another over a short period of time – can feel overwhelming to many patients and caregivers.

Thankfully, you can plan ahead to make these visits less stressful and more productive. Here are six tips for making the most out of your next appointment:

    1. Write down questions. In the weeks prior to your appointment, keep a notepad handy and write down questions as you think of them. You may even want to share these questions with your physician in advance.
    2. Draft a seizure emergency plan. Seizure emergency response is particularly important for people who have seizure clusters, as they may be at greater risk for progressing to status epilepticus. The Epilepsy Foundation offers a seizure emergency plan template that you can use as a starting point and then complete in coordination with your physician.
    3. Bring your seizure diary. Keeping a seizure calendar or diary can help you identify seizure triggers, such as stress, fatigue, or hormonal fluctuations. It may also help you and your physician identify which medications or dosages are working – and which are causing problematic side effects or providing poor seizure control. If you don’t yet have a seizure diary, you can access an easy-to-use digital diary through the Epilepsy Foundation.
    4. Know your medications – all of them. While you and your physician will likely spend time reviewing your epilepsy medication(s), don’t forget to mention non-prescription products like aspirin and allergy medicines, or even vitamins and other supplements. Some of these products can interact with prescription medicines and cause additional side effects or other problems.
    5. Take along an advocate. If you’re concerned that you may forget what was said, bring a friend or family member to take notes. Or, you may want to audiotape the visit, with permission.
    6. Request a longer or a second appointment. If regular visits seem too short, ask for a longer appointment or request a follow-up appointment. Remember: Your doctor and health care team care about you. Reach out to them if you have additional questions or concerns.

Using the above pointers will help make you a stronger and more informed member of your health care team. That’s an important first step towards the optimal management of seizure clusters.

Note: Seizure clusters, also referred to as acute repetitive seizures, consist of multiple seizures which occur over a relatively short period of time and which can be distinguished from a patient’s usual seizure pattern. While anybody who has epilepsy may experience seizure clusters, some patients are more at risk. To learn more, see What Are Seizure Clusters?

November 29, 2016 | Categories: General

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