An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you’re asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on a EEG recording. An EEG tests for any abnormal brain activity. It is one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy.

An EEG is a safe and painless test that has no associated risks. After the test, a neurologist will interpret the recordings taken from the EEG and will send the results to your doctor. Then your doctor will have you schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss and go over the results.

Why is an EEG performed? 

​EEGs are performed to confirm or rule out various conditions such as:

  • seizure disorders (epilepsy)
  • head injury
  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • brain tumor
  • encephalopathy (disease that causes brain dysfunction)
  • memory problems
  • sleep disorders
  • stroke
  • dementia

How to Prepare

​Prior to the day of the EEG, your doctor or healthcare provider will ask you what medications you are taking at the time. He or she may ask you to stop taking certain medications such as sedatives and tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, sleeping aids, and seizure medications because they can affect your brain's normal electrical activity. Being on the medications at the time of the EEG highly increases the chance of producing inaccurate test results.

Do not eat or drink caffeinated products 12 hours before the test. This includes coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate.

The electrodes will be placed on your scalp, so make sure your hair is clean. Shampoo and rinse your hair with water the night before or morning of the test. Do not put any conditioner or hair products in after washing.

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