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Please explain thè difference between epilepsy and fainting

(36 Posts)
ash6605 Sat 01-Dec-12 01:20:34

A bit of background, sorry if I ramble but have just gone through a scary experience and am still shaking......DH has always been "a fainter" if he's unwell or nervous he passes out. He's out for minutes, takes a long time to bring him round and then he just sleeps it off. These episodes have got worse as thè years have gone by, he had a circumcision about 8yr ago and kept fainting in hosp after the op. Dr who witnessed it reffered him for more testing saying that in her opinion it was a convulsion/fit he was having. Testing cane back negative of epilepsy, brain scan clear.

Wind forward a couple of years and it happened while he was driving on a motorway with me and dcs in car. If it weren't for thè fact it was late at night and I was quick thinking then I don't think we wouldn't survived it, I had to swerve into the hard shoulder, ring an ambulance, police escort to hosp......anyway dr then reffered him for another brain scan, ECG again, all clear.

A few months back he had a vasectomy, cue a phone call from the clinic saying that they hadn't been aware of DH's history of epilepsy but they were admitting him to hospital as hed had a really violent siezure at thè end of his procedure.

Doctors say they have done every test possible, and that they can only diagnose him as having (sp) vagovasil syncope which from what I understand is basically fainting episodes. They had him on the tilt table and said that he is one of the rate few egos blood sugar, heart rate AND bp drop when he's "fainting" which is why it takes so long to come round.

Why then have my dc and I just witnessed the most horrific of convulsions from him? My screams woke the children up sad it happened after he vomited (we have all had a bit of a tummy bug) rapid eye flapping,violent shaking, holding of breath then coming round with an almighty groan. How can that be a faint? How can medics who've witnessed this and said it looks like epilepsy be wrong? I feel like one day he just isn't going to survive one of these attacks. They are so terrifying for my children to witness. I don't mean to play epilepsy down but at least if it was that there'd be some medication, something to treat it with.

Please advice on what I do now, is there anything I can do, do I push for more testing or just accept that this is going to have to be put up with?

desertgirl Sun 09-Dec-12 07:21:13

I officially have epilepsy, but it didn't show on any of the tests - EEG was not quite normal but not epileptic either - I understood the diagnosis was based on 'more than one seizure with no other apparent cause'. Anyway all of mine were about 7 years ago, but they still won't let me come off the drugs unless I agree to give up driving for a while sad

Valdeeves Sun 09-Dec-12 09:14:24

I have Vasa Vagal Syncope with reflex anxious seizures. It's a genetic condition and I've had it all my life. My family went round the houses and I was diagnosed with epilepsy but my mother being a savvy nurse knew it wasn't and did not medicate me. Epilepsy medication was quite hard going 25 years ago - no idea what it's like now. I was diagnosed as an adult when I had a huge seizure that left me unable to speak after a travel injection. A doctor walked in and it just happened that his good friend at medical school ran the syncope unit.
I got a pacemaker - eleven years of no seizures!
The STARS link posted will tell you everything you need to know and provide support. It also recommends GP's as some regions are better than others. Where are you?
The other thing is this - not all of us can be treated with a pacemaker - I think it's not a high percentage. Some people rely on drug therapy to keep the blood pressure raised which really helps.

Valdeeves Sun 09-Dec-12 15:28:54

I have vasa Vagal syncope with reflex anoxic seizures and have a pacemaker - it can also be controlled with blood pressure meds. What region are you in as that can really affect treatment?
Go on the STARS website (Syncope Trust And Reflex Anoxic Seisures) it will help you.
The one thing I'll say is - the car incident is unusual to have a fit sitting down? (Unless there's a big trigger involved)
I live a normal life, have two children and with my pacemaker have had no Seisures for 11 years.

Valdeeves Sun 09-Dec-12 15:30:07

Sorry I posted twice as my first one didn't show up!

myBOYSareBONKERS Sat 22-Dec-12 22:14:53

I have this problem to but I don't have a pacemaker as I am lucky enough to know what triggers mine.

I always carry a drink with me, never get over hungry and always sit down if possible. My concern for you is the lack of warning and driving. If he did have an accident I doubt he would be covered by insurance.

He must get a cardiology referral so they can do the tilt table, 24 hrs ECG and insert a reveal device.

myBOYSareBONKERS Sat 22-Dec-12 22:20:32

I do the "convulsions" when I have an attack. There is a lack of blood and so oxygen to the brain (and so lying down is the best position) and the body is shaking to speed up the blood flow in order to get it to the brain quicker.

Emmielu Sun 23-Dec-12 19:04:34

Don't wait for it to happen again. Call an ambulance every time. You're not sure what it is and its better safe than sorry. I have epilepsy and always tell people to try and time my seizures. If it's after 2 mins call an ambulance. If its one after another call a ambulance. If recovery time is longer than 4mins call an ambulance.

It is scary really scary for the both of you but you do need to make sure he has more tests done as well. It's gotta be something.

ProudNLoud Sun 03-Mar-13 16:36:54

Fainting......not sure why? Speak to GP for referal regarding
Vasovagal syncope..............often misdiagnosed as epilepsy...............
TILT TABLE TEST .............. is the definitive test for vasovagal synccope also known as Reflex Anoxic Syndrome........Check out this helpful website which also explains LONG QT which may be a reason for faints...........
www.STARS.org.uk
STARS have lots of useful information. Hope this helps some posts here.

PenelopePipPop Sun 03-Mar-13 19:15:46

It is a bit of a weird clinical history for epilepsy. Your DH would have to have started having infrequent generalised seizures in adulthood which are only triggered by serious illness and medical procedures (the kind that place stress on the body and might trigger a faint). Usually adult-onset epilepsy starts with focal seizures which slowly increase in severity until the person suffers generalised seizures and classic triggers are sleep deprivation and stress (which obviously go hand in hand). Unless there is a prior history of focal seizures you have not mentioned it seems atypical.

That does not mean he does not have a serious medical problem. He obviously does. But you will probably get more sense out of a cardiology referral than neurology. If cardiology think they cannot help because the cause is more likely to be epileptic they can always refer him over to neurology.

The looking like epilepsy business is a red herring. Epileptic seizures can look like pretty much anything, so misdiagnosis even by neurologists is surprisingly common. In fact when people have seizures which cannot be controlled with meds and get referred to a tertiary referral centres about a third turn out not to have epilepsy at all.

Pictureperfect Sun 03-Mar-13 23:15:53

Hi, I was reffered to an epilepsy clinic after 2 seizures (I also used to pass out, other times would collapse, twitch and not be able to respond but could hear what people were saying). The dr at the clinic told my Mum if it happened again to try and record it on a camera phone as it would be really helpful.
I would really push to see a neurologist or epilepsy/fit clinic. I can't imagine how scary watching must of been.
Do you know the charity STARS, they are fab and can give you advice

Kundry Mon 04-Mar-13 23:08:42

A really deep faint can look exactly like a seizure - when you have deeply lost consciousness you can shake just like a seizure, wet yourself, bite your tongue etc.

Would it help you to go with your DH to his next appointment, or make an appointment with your GP, to ask your questions about exactly why it isn't epilepsy - from what you describe it seems like his doctors are very certain of the diagnosis but haven't managed to communicate this to you as well as you need.

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