By Adrian Sparrow
The EEG is used to detect epilepsy in patients, showing irregular brain activity that indicates seizures. However, as the test records electrical activity in the brain, other diagnoses can be made or supported with an EEG.
The primary use of an EEG is to diagnose epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Epilepsy is marked by seizures, muscle spasms, and irregular behavior, possibly due to chemical imbalances and abnormal cell communication. Treatment might involve anti-seizure medication and brain surgery for more severe cases.
An EEG can evaluate sleep disorders, including insomnia and narcolepsy. Whether people have trouble falling and staying asleep, or have excessive daytime drowsiness and uncontrollable sleep, doctors may treat them with medication.
Both benign and malignant tumors can show up on an EEG as irregular activity. One symptom of a brain tumor is seizures, which can show on the EEG; others include headaches, sensory changes, impaired motor control, fatigue, and changes in behavior. Treatments include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Brain injuries could arise from an external force (such as a concussion) or internal causes that lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury but can range from headaches and changes in balance to syncope and coma. Treatments depend on the nature of the injury but usually include both physical and mental rest. Therapy may be necessary for more severe cases.
Dementia is marked by memory loss and impaired speech or mental acuity, and sometimes behavior issues can arise. Dementia is often comorbid with Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and vascular dementia. Treatments include medication to help with mental ability and therapy for behavioral issues.
An EEG may detect brain infections, which include conditions such as a brain abscess and swelling. A brain infection can cause headaches, seizures, and changes in mental state, behavior, and personality. Infections are treated with antibiotics, antiviral or anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery.
A stroke happens when blood cannot get to the brain, causing a lack of oxygen and cell death. A clot can block a blood vessel, called an ischemic stroke, or a blood vessel can burst and bleed into the brain, called a hemorrhagic stroke. Symptoms include paralysis or weakness, numbness, face drooping, slurred speech, and trouble with words. A stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention and treatment.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are marked by difficulty focusing and controlling one’s behavior. Treatment includes medication and therapy.
Behavior disorders include conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An EEG can help to determine whether a physical reason is responsible. Behavior disorders can be treated with behavioral therapy and medication.
Developmental delays can affect communication, motor skills, and mental ability. An EEG may help detect a physical reason for these delays. Treatment for delays focuses on individual needs and might involve speech, occupational, physical, and behavioral therapies.