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A relative of mine tells us he suffered from epileptic fits as a child, and they've gone away without having taken any medication.

We have never seen him in any "fit" ourselves - and are now skeptical as to if this could indeed have gone away without any medication (if that's possible) or was this all a yarn.

  • @Rosalee: I'd recommend getting a doctor's opinion, or try the parenting.stackexchange site – JoseK Jul 4 '11 at 10:40
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    @RosaleePierre: please, do not seek medical advice on the Internet, especially for something so serious. Anyone who is willing to give you medical advice on something like this without even seeing the patient should probably not be trusted. – nico Oct 2 '11 at 12:38
  • As an epileptic myself, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST cessation of any medication for a chronic condition without the instruction of a medical professional. When I miss a dose medication, my left arm begins to tingle by the end of the day, a similar sensation to the onset of my epileptic episodes. The last time I missed two doses in a row, I had a grand-mal seizure. Some years ago, an acquaintance's son with the same diagnosis as me ceased his medication and died during the subsequent seizure. This is all anecdotal, but trust your doctor. – Brian S Nov 3 '14 at 15:42
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I wonder if this is a case of incorrect terminolgy.

The term 'epileptic fit' is commonly misappropriated for all types of seizure or convulsive-type activity. For example, in children aged between six months and six years, seizures due to fever are quite common.

A person is usually diagnosed as having epilepsy if they have had two or more seizures that started in the brain. However, getting a diagnosis of epilepsy can be difficult because there is no single test that can diagnose epilepsy.

[...]

Because there is no obvious sign a person has epilepsy, unless they are having a seizure, it can make diagnosing epilepsy difficult. A diagnosis is usually made after a person has had more than one epileptic seizure. When a person has had a seizure they may not remember what happened, so it can be helpful to have information from someone who saw the seizure happening.

[...]

Anyone can have a single epileptic seizure at some point in their life. This is why a diagnosis of epilepsy is usually only considered when a person has had more than one seizure. However, if you have had only one suspected seizure your doctor may still want to investigate it, as there can be various possible causes.1

Emphasis mine.

It's quite possible that your relative did have a seizure or some type of convulsive activity as a child. That doesn't necessarily mean he had/has epilepsy. That said, if he did indeed have epilepsy, remission is commonly seen:

Whether your child "outgrows" epilepsy will be dependent upon several factors. First, the diagnosis should be clarified. Epilepsy is defined as at least 2 seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart without acute provocation. Therefore, if your child had one seizure or had only febrile seizures, she does not have epilepsy. Epilepsy can be described by seizure type and also by syndrome. Prognosis, or whether your child outgrows epilepsy, will depend most on the epilepsy syndrome. Seizure syndrome is based on the age of onset of seizures, electroencephalographic (EEG) pattern, and seizure type.

Some epilepsy syndromes are "benign," meaning that the seizures will remit within a certain age range.2

Emphasis mine.

Conclusion: Either he had epilepsy and has outgrown it, or never had epilepsy.


1The National Society for Epilepsy: About epilepsy > Diagnosis > How epilepsy is diagnosed.

2The Epilepsy Foundation of Metropolitan New York: My child was diagnosed with epilepsy, will she outgrow it?

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    +1, interesting. Is there a third possible conclusion: He still has epilepsy, but just hasn't had a fit for many years. (Genuine question - I am not sure if this is a sensible statement or not.) – Oddthinking Jun 16 '11 at 13:15
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    Spot-on, and a sensible statement to boot. I was tossing up whether to include this third option or not. I decided not to on the basis that some therapeutic guidelines (rules for diagnoses and treatments) say that the epilepsy has gone into remission if there hasn't been an observed seizure for x number of years. This impacts on things like whether the person can obtain a driving license, how much health insurance will cost, etc. I don't know all the details regarding how this varies from country to country. It's largely a pragmatic consideration. I'm also not a neurologist. – user2466 Jun 16 '11 at 13:27
  • Given the background I know, it might be the mistaken diagnosis. Thanks for the detailed answer – JoseK Jun 18 '11 at 6:02
  • No problems. Glad to know your relative is OK now. – user2466 Jun 18 '11 at 6:27
  • @user2366, I can't speak to all jurisdictions, but in Texas a diagnosis of epilepsy does not prevent you from obtaining (or renewing) a driving license. However, a grand-mal seizure prevents driving for 6 months. – Brian S Nov 3 '14 at 15:47

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