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6 Reasons Why Your Doctor Might Order an EEG

Jan 19, 2024
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Your brain is the center of your nervous system, and disorders that affect it are not always as obvious as many other conditions. An electroencephalogram (EEG) can help with diagnosing various brain disorders.

Your brain is a fascinating organ for a variety of reasons; it’s the center of the nervous system, but feels no pain, it only weighs about 3 pounds and three-fourths of it is literally water, and yet it contains 100,000,000,000 neurons. It uses about 20% of the oxygen and blood your body takes in, and information travels between neurons at an astonishing 250 mph. So, when something goes wrong in this vital organ, we need to know what it is, so it can be treated.

This is where an electroencephalogram, or EEG, comes in. Conditions affecting the brain can be less obvious in its early stages, and getting proper diagnostic care is the most effective way of determining what’s wrong and how to manage it. To better understand why an EEG might be ordered, let’s look at what this device is, how it works, and what conditions it’s used to diagnose.

Residents of Norwood, Anderson, and Westside, Ohio, or Crestview Hills, Kentucky, looking for help diagnosing brain disorders and other related neurological conditions can get help with the team of specialists at Riverhills Neuroscience.

What is an electroencephalogram (EEG)?

Your brain is the most important bit of soft tissue your body has, responsible for thoughts, memory, motor skills, emotions, interpreting sensory input, temperature, and even hunger. The gray and white matter in your brain works by sending and receiving chemical and electrical signals throughout your body. The EEG has been used since the late 1920s to detect aberrations in the electrical activity in your brain. If there is reason to believe a condition is rooted in abnormal brain function, an EEG is a vital tool in finding unusual electrical function.

How does it work?

An EEG works by using electrodes (small, flat metal discs) attached to your scalp to analyze electrical impulses, and the wires attached to the electrodes sense the electronic pulses in nerve signals. These signals are sent to the machine and displayed on computer equipment to interpret.

When going through the procedure, you lie in a comfortable bed, and the electrodes are attached (often about 23). After relaxing with eyes open or closed, your brain activity is recorded for different periods of time, depending on what condition your provider is looking to possibly diagnose or get more information about. Experiencing dizziness is not unusual during an EEG, but it doesn’t last long after the screening is done. 

What is an EEG used to detect?

Here are some reasons why you may undergo an EEG:

Epilepsy evaluation

This is the most common reason for an EEG, as it looks for epileptiform patterns indicative of the condition. These will appear as spikes or spike and wave discharges during the test, and it can help show where the seizure starts in the brain.

Abnormal sleep behavior

If you exhibit unusual behavior while sleeping, an EEG can be done with a sleep study (polysomnogram) to rule out seizures and identify sleep pattern disruptions.  

Problems after a head injury or other trauma

In the case of a severe head injury, EEGs can be done to determine abnormal brain activity. Additionally, it can also be used when dealing with brain tumors, encephalitis, and stroke.

Determining reasons for coma

If a patient is comatose, this can help determine why, as well as check for brain death when in this state. It can also help determine the reasons for delirium.

Evaluating drug intoxication

If someone is abusing drugs or under the influence of medications that affect cognitive function, EEGs help examine the extent of this intoxication.

Look for early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

If there are early signs of cognitive decline indicative of dementia or related conditions, or there is a family history of these problems, EEGs can be done to determine any evidence of the illnesses before they worsen.

Your brain is vital to everything you are and is connected to everything you do, which makes taking care of it a top priority. To see if you’re dealing with a brain disorder, make an appointment with the team at Riverhills Neuroscience today to get an EEG and whatever treatment you need.