ANNOUNCER: Sleep-related epilepsy occurs in a minority of epilepsy patients, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent, although because the patient is asleep, seizure activity is difficult to recognize. The patient may feel tired and fatigued during the day and not know why. Or the physician may recognize a pattern of sleep deprivation symptoms occurring over weeks or months. But there are a few techniques physicians and patients can use to diagnose sleep-related epilepsy.
STEVEN KARCESKI, MD: The initial step in diagnosing seizures that are associated with sleep is in the doctor's office. The person experiencing the seizures will explain a pattern of seizures that may occur, but medical testing can help to confirm this. Video EEG monitoring, which combines video and brainwave testing, capturing the person's seizures during sleep, is very helpful not only in establishing the diagnosis, but also in really focusing on the kind of seizure that the person is experiencing during sleep.
ANNOUNCER: If a patient suspects they are having seizures during sleep, it is important to address their concern with their physician for a number of reasons.
STEVEN KARCESKI, MD: There are very specific kinds of epilepsy where the seizures are more likely to occur while the person is sleeping. If this is a pattern of seizures that a person's been experiencing over a period of time, it's important to identify this and bring this to the physician's attention. The reason is that this information can be very important in helping to make the very specific diagnosis of the kind of epilepsy that that person has.