ZocdocAnswersIf someone has a seizure does it mean they have epilepsy?

Question

If someone has a seizure does it mean they have epilepsy?

Friend of mine passed out at a party and started to have a seizure on the ground. She's afraid to tell her parents or anything (she's only 19 and she was drinking.) Could she have epilepsy? I'm scared that she won't have it diagnosed.

Answer

Epilepsy is a diagnosis that is given to someone that has recurrent seizures that are not caused by a drug or toxin. We usually do not give a diagnosis of epilepsy to someone that has only one seizure. As a general rule, we usually need to see more than one seizure before a whole workup for epilepsy is done. What I tell patients is that you always get one seizure for free. After that, we need to begin looking for a cause of the seizures and begin treatment for epilepsy. If this was your friend's first seizure, then she has a good chance of never having another one. If she was using certain drugs at the time of the seizure, she should refrain from using those drugs in the future. Either way, she should definitely see a doctor about this issue. Most primary care physicians will refer their patients who have a true witnessed seizure to a neurologist even if the diagnosis of epilepsy is still in question (i.e if it is their first seizure). I suggest that your friend go ahead and schedule that appointment (with the neurologist). This way she has developed a relationship with a doctor if this ever happens again.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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