Epilepsy Talk

Blood Tests May Help Diagnose Epilepsy | December 4, 2019

A recent study shows that a simple blood test can determine whether or not someone has had an epileptic seizure.

Doctors at Stanford University, California, reveal that the level of the hormone prolactin may be indicative of the type of seizure and can be measured by this blood test.

The blood test which must be used within 10 to 20 minutes after a seizure, can identify generalized tonic-clonic seizures and complex partial seizures in both adults and older children, because the level of prolactin in the blood goes up.

Researchers say epileptic seizures are thought to affect the hypothalamus and may alter the release of prolactin, causing levels of the hormone to rise.

The results also showed that the test could accurately identify seizures from nonseizure type episodes.

Because levels of prolactin in the blood increase after seizures, but not during nonseizure activity.

In the study, which appears in the journal Neurology, researchers evaluated eight studies on the prolactin blood test.

But they say the test cannot distinguish epileptic seizures from those caused by a fainting episodes, because prolactin levels also rise after these types of seizures.

And there was also not enough evidence to determine whether the prolactin test is useful in evaluating cases of status epilepticus, repetitive seizures, or neonatal seizures.

But the guidelines state that the test is useful as an adjunct test, especially in cases where video EEG monitoring is not readily available.

In addition, your doctor may take a blood sample to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions or other conditions which may be associated with seizures.

Blood tests will also be used to monitor anti-seizure medication levels in your blood, to make sure you’re at the appropriate “therapeutic level” for the most effective results, to eliminate “toxic” levels, and check for possible side-effects.

These tests may also be ordered to determine the general physical well-being of your body.

In adults, appropriate blood tests (glucose, electrolytes, calcium, renal function, liver function, and urine biochemistry) to identify potential causes and/or to identify additional significant disorders should also be addressed.

They can also be used to detect if you have an infection or been exposed to any poisons that may have caused your seizures.

All of this from a single blood test!

Be sure to ask your neurologist about this very simple diagnostic tool and if he/she doesn’t know about it yet, a little education my be your first job! (See references below.)

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  1. I tried AGAIN to post my comments on your E T forum & it still does not post. I get tired of typing my thoughts of 5 + minutes, & click post to see nothing I typed. I am not being punished by this, BUT the other readers who I think would be helped are, unless there are some people who just want to CONTROL who says what & HOW people get helped, if it is not their beliefs or cup of tea to agree about.


    Comment by jcdavis@hardynet.com — December 4, 2019 @ 2:04 PM

  2. Goodafternoon Phylis 😊. I never realized this until I started reading your articles and joining another epilepsy group that the there is a huge difference between the United States and Canada in the sense that those in the United States seems to be better educated and have way more knowledge about epilepsy than those here in Canada do!! For example I never knew there was a such thing as “JACKSONIAN SEIZURES” until I was introduced to them with the title by people from other epilepsy groups!! We don’t seem to be as educated about epilepsy or even have the material such as yourself and the epileptics didn’t that are in the United States of America. For that I thank you for sharing your education and knowledge with the world!! On that note I was wondering if you happen to know of any epileptic medications that don’t cause “hyponatremia”? Please and thank you 🙏🏼 😊. Also I bet they haven’t heard about the blood tests here in Canada either!! I am going to see a new neurologist on Friday and I’ve been picking my brain and racking my head to make sure I have all of my bases covered before I go and see him. Thank you and please have a very good day today and I hope the new family member is doing well and your all now becoming one 😊🙏🏼🦅😇💞😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 4:37 PM

    • “Expert opinion: Carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine are the most common AEDs which induce hyponatremia in patients with epilepsy.

      Recently, other AEDs, such as eslicarbazepine, sodium valproate, lamotrigine, levetiracetam and gabapentin have also been reported to cause hyponatremia.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27737595

      Well, I sure found a lot of meds that DO cause hyponatremia, but not the other way around. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2019 @ 5:37 PM

  3. Lol yes you sure did lol 😂. I was told gabapentin may be a good alternative but In all honesty the “hyponatremia” warning led me away from that drug as well!! That’s alright that’s how we all learn best!! TOGETHER!! 😊🙏🏼😇💞😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 5:41 PM


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 6:24 PM

  5. How about “TOPOMAX” or “TOPIRAMATE”? 🤔🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 6:30 PM

  6. “Although hyponatremia has been especially associated with serotonergic antidepressants (SSRIs), there is also an elevated risk with tricyclics, duals and heterocyclic antidepressants.” https://www.intechopen.com/books/fluid-and-electrolyte-disorders/hyponatremia-and-psychotropic-drugs

    Hyponatremia with valproic acid was identified in a single case–control study but it is not known if phenytoin or topiramate associate with hyponatremia. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/epi.13593

    In other words, they don’t THINK so. Or the cases are very rare.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2019 @ 6:44 PM

  7. Hmmmmm 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 7:29 PM

  8. Out of curiosity can an epileptic who has been on tegretol and Dilantin for 41 years be changed onto another medication for epilepsy and weaned off of the tegretol and Dilantin?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 8:07 PM

  9. For sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2019 @ 8:11 PM

  10. Oh thank you for informing me of that Phylis. My great grandparents and grandma and old people never wanted me to have the brain surgery! Therefore I had to honour them. However I have to admit that out of waiting to be a grandmother myself 🙏🏼🙏🏼🦅🦅🙏🏼🙏🏼💗💗 I will admit I have been painfully seriously considering talking to the neurologist about it. So I GREATLY APPRECIATE YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR ALL OF US PHYLIS!!!!!!!ALL MY LOVE!!!!!!! 😘🙏🏼🦅😇💗😘💞

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 4, 2019 @ 8:16 PM

    • You might be interested in this article:

      Epilepsy and Brain Surgery — The Basics


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2019 @ 10:13 AM

      • Thank you Phylis 😊🦅😇💞. Personally I was thinking about it, but due to the generations who raised me prior and my husband and children and fear I felt it would be best to take a step back for a bit. However I now will seriously consider my options. Lol I like to pride myself on not needing anyone with me at all time or anyone even know if I had a seizure!! Because I don’t like being the person their always worried about and the fear we all face everyday. But at the same time there won’t be any good positive change if we don’t allow for it to happen either. 🙏🏼🦅😇💞😘

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — December 5, 2019 @ 11:08 AM

      • You know that if want things to change, you have to be willing to accept changes and opportunities too.

        I’m NOT saying that brain surgery is the right thing for you, but you must consider other possibilities.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2019 @ 11:36 AM

  11. Interesting. another piece to the puzzle. Thanks Phylis

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Flower Roberts — December 5, 2019 @ 8:47 AM

  12. You are doing good work. Rose and I are trying to help others also. http://seizuremamaandrose.org

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Flower Roberts — December 5, 2019 @ 8:52 AM

  13. My husband is an IT Tech and I watch him put some of the electronics he works with and then I think about a neurosurgeon cutting open my head (after watching very close family member who have gone through similar surgeries) and It makes me a bit nervous knowing all it takes is a twitch to change me and my life. However it’s unreal how after all these centuries and decades there still are no medications that don’t cause some negative reaction on our bodies. But there are also way more advancements in brain surgery we just may not be able to have then because of the concussions we have endured throughout our life time of epilepsy. Again maybe it does come down to overdosing by the medications we have to take on a daily basis. We’ll see and I will ask. Thank you Phylis

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 5, 2019 @ 3:11 PM

  14. I completely agree with Phylis. Thank you Flower it’s nice to be educated from an immediate family and caregiver, parent standpoint as well. Not very many people either know how to perform such a feat or are scared to or just plain old don’t know how to!! Thank you once again 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 5, 2019 @ 3:14 PM

  15. Makes me wonder if we would ever be able to be weaned off of medication if we were agree to try one of those devices? I live in southern Alberta Canada and I do know they do the “laser ablation” in Edmonton, Alberta. Which is about 4.5 hours north of here. I was wondering if maybe that maybe an option I can look at as well or if it would be doable I guess?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 5, 2019 @ 4:38 PM

  16. Ya I was kind of thinking that too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — December 5, 2019 @ 5:02 PM

  17. Thank you for a very important information, again.
    What’s frustrating about the “blood tests” the doctors & hospitals carry out when I’m having seizures or recommended follow up tests is the labs, doctors & hospitals who got access to my blood tests does NOT provide me with the TEST RESULTS, I’ve been expecting after each blood test for my records to keep & update my medical history.
    I keep asking myself,,, “Why am I providing my blood for a test, if the the labs, doctors & hospitals are NOT going to share the result of my blood test with the me”?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — December 5, 2019 @ 5:09 PM

  18. Yeah. We hear you. 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2019 @ 5:14 PM

  19. Good luck on getting to a blood test within 10-20 minutes.


    Comment by HoDo — December 9, 2019 @ 11:01 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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