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Brains Super Speciality Hospital
CHILDHOOD EPILEPSY- A GUIDE TO PARENTS

Dr. VARSHA MANOHAR

PEDIATRICIAN AND PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGIST

WHAT IS A SEIZURE?

Seizures are not a mental disorder. The human brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons that use electricity to transmit nerve impulses. When there is an excess of electrical current in the brain, many neurons fire simultaneously, resulting in a seizure.

WHEN DOES A SEIZURE BECOME EPILEPSY?

A child has epilepsy when he or she has two or more unprovoked seizures – that is, seizures without a known cause such as fever, head injury, or sleep deprivation.

WHY DO CHILDREN GET SEIZURES?

  • .Head trauma or brain injury
  • .Birth defects: lack of oxygen at birth, bleeding in the brain, structural brain defects
  • .Infections: (meningitis, encephalitis)
  • .Brain tumor
  • .Metabolic disorders
  • .Genetic conditions

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF EPILEPSY?

A seizure can be:

Generalized seizure, which involves both sides of the brain at once

Focal seizure, which involves only one side, but can spread to the other side (a secondary generalized seizure)

There are many other types of seizures like subtle, absence seizures- daydreaming, staring spells

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR EPILEPSY IN CHILDREN?

  • .Family history of epilepsy
  • .A history of traumatic brain injury.
  • .A history of brain infection.
  • .Other neurological conditions.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF EPILEPSY IN CHILDREN?

  • .Physical injury.
  • .Fear of future seizures.
  • .Sleep disturbances.
  • .Low self-esteem.
  • .Lack of concentration.
  • .Depression and Anxiety

HOW IS EPILEPSY IN CHILDREN DIAGNOSED?

The doctor will ask you about your child's detailed medical history, including any past seizures, head injuries, or illnesses. They will also perform a physical examination including a neurological examination to check for any abnormalities that might suggest a cause for the seizures.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) is done to known the seizure pattern. It measures the electrical activity of the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. An EEG can often show abnormal patterns that are characteristic of epilepsy, even if your child is not having a seizure during the test.

Imaging tests such as CT or MRI can help to identify any structural abnormalities in the brain that might be causing the seizures.

HOW IS EPILEPSY TREATED?

Treatment of epilepsy usually starts with medicines called Anti-seizure medicines the dose to be adjusted according to the weight of the child.

Other treatment options include -

Epilepsy surgery- when a focal lesion is present

Ketogenic diet- low carbohydrates, high-fat diet in drug-resistant seizures

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?

Ensure that the child takes medicines at the routine time without missing the dose.

Avoid known seizure triggers- fever, lack of sleep, flashing of light, excessive screen time

Encourage normal activities

Take precautions while swimming, outdoor sports

Have a balanced diet

Promote 7-8hrs of sleep

Maintain a seizure diary

SEIZURE FIRST AID

1. Do not panic

2. Turn the child to their side and start timing the seizure

3. Place something soft under the head

4. Do not put anything in the mouth

5. Do not restrain the movements

6. If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, call an ambulance

If your child has had a seizure, it is important to see a doctor right away to get a diagnosis and start treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent future seizures and improve your child's quality of life.