Seizures can be a very scary experience for children and parents, especially the first time they happen. A seizure occurs when the cells in the brain cannot maintain their normal electric activity thus creating some sort of electrical storm. The event is sudden and involuntary and can happen anywhere in the brain. The seizure manifests in different ways: involuntary jerking, staring, weird tastes, strange smell and more. Seizure can be divided into two types: generalized seizures and focal (partial) seizures.
There are a few different types of generalized seizures.
The most well-known type of generalized seizure is the tonic-clonic seizure. A child will suddenly lose consciousness and fall. The body will get rigid and the mouth will close. Afterwards, the limbs will convulse. In some cases, the child may bite their tongue, foam at the mouth and release urine. In most cases, the seizure only lasts for a few minutes, and afterwards, the body releases all the muscles. Usually, the child will fall asleep or be tired and confused.
Another generalized seizure type is absence seizures. The child’s consciousness is impaired, and he seems to stare aimlessly for a few seconds. He will act normally right after the episode.
A third type is myoclonic seizures, which include short, involuntary jerking movements which last less than a second.
Focal seizures are characterized by involuntary movements in one limb or part of the body, without loss of consciousness or a change in consciousness which affects the memory.
Important! There is no danger of swallowing the tongue during the seizure, since it becomes rigid and does not fall back. Laying the child to the side helps prevent the tongue from blocking the airways.
Why is my child seizing?
There are many things that can cause a seizure, and in most cases, the exact cause is not known. In a majority of cases, there is a genetic connection even if the family’s medical history does not have a history of seizures. Other causes include an infection in the brain, head injuries, high fever, sugar imbalance, congenital defects.
Blood Tests: blood count, general biochemistry, blood sugar levels
EEG: tests the electric activity in the brain
CT or MRI: of the brain (only with doctor recommendation)
The child may be hospitalized for monitoring purposes. If the cause can be determined, the child will be given the appropriate treatment. If no cause is determined, the child will be discharged, and the child be monitored in the clinic. Based on the specific cases, a neurologist may decide to prescribe anti-seizure medication.
Dos and Don’ts during a Seizure
DO remove sharp objects from the area and lay your child down on the floor surrounded by pillows and other soft objects.
DO lay the child on his side.
DO NOT forcibly open his mouth.
DO NOT administer medication or liquids while he is seizing.
DO call for help.
In general, your child can live a normal life. However, we recommend not leaving him alone in the bathtub, pool or ocean or in a small locked place. Sports are okay, but not rock climbing or diving.
Does my child have epilepsy?
In order to diagnose epilepsy, there needs to have been two seizures that occurred inexplicably.
In most cases, the doctor will recommend preventative drug treatments. The drug treatment prevents seizures for 75%-80% of patients. Following two years seizure-free, your child can be weaned off the medication (only with a doctor’s recommendation). Abruptly stopping the drugs can cause a seizure. After two years without seizures, your child’s chances of recovery are very high and the child can lead a normal life. Some children suffer from severe seizing and medication does not help them.