EEG, electroencephalography, is the most prominent method of diagnosing epileptic seizures. It is also used to monitor brain activity during surgery, check for dementia, sleep disorders and more. An EEG study detects the electrical activity happening within the brain and captures brainwave data, so a doctor can analyze the results for an accurate diagnosis.
If you are going to have an EEG study you will want to make sure you properly prepare for the test, so that your medical team obtains optimal data about your brainwaves. Preparing for an EEG is generally quite easy, but you will want to talk with your doctor to determine exactly what is expected of you during the study.
Talk with Medical Professionals
Your physician will need to know if you are taking any medications or herbal supplements. Some medications may have the potential to affect the brain's electrical activity and throw off the test results with abnormal readings. Your doctor may ask that you refrain from taking certain medications while you are undergoing an EEG to avoid any interference. Some common medications you may be asked to temporarily stop taking include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Sleeping aids
- Seizure medication
Be Aware of What You Eat
Certain types of foods can alter the electrical activity in the brain. Foods that contain caffeine—such as soda, chocolate, tea, and coffee—have the potential to alter the results of the test. You should refrain from ingesting any caffeine for 12 hours before the test begins. Your doctor may have other types of food and drink that they want you to refrain from eating as well.
Squeaky Clean Hair
When you have your EEG, a certified technician will attach electrodes to your scalp with a special glue. The electrodes are harmless, but it is critical to make sure they make a proper connection to your scalp. In order to help with this, it is important that you wash your hair before the test. Shampoo it and rinse it with clean water. Do not use any type of hair conditioner, oil, or other hair product after washing as these products can inhibit the electrodes from properly attaching to your scalp. Your hair needs to be as clean as possible.
In some cases, you may be required to sleep during part of the EEG test. If that's the case, your doctor may ask that you sleep less the night before so sleep comes easier. Many people believe it will be difficult to sleep when they have the electrodes on their head, so feeling a little "extra tired" that day can help. If you have a child who is having an EEG, you may be encouraged to have your child skip his or her normal naptime.
Safe and Simple
These simple steps tend to be the most important factors that your doctor will want you to do when preparing for your EEG study. Of course, all patients are unique, and your doctor may have certain requirements that are specific to you. The EEG test is safe and simple, but it's normal to feel a bit of concern when you realize that you need to undergo the test. If you have any questions about how to prepare for an EEG, make sure you ask. The medical team wants to make the experience as simple as possible for you and are there to assist you.
Please feel free to share what it was like when you prepped for your EEG. Your encouragement and experiences can help others better understand what it’s like.