Written by Feba Maryann
Seizures are one of the most common brain disorders found in children. But the experience of seeing your child having one could be very frightening, even though in most cases they last only a few minutes and are not life threatening.
One of the most common neurological disorders that causes seizure is epilepsy. According to WHO, epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide. Though most children with epilepsy overcome it as they grow up, it is essential that parents understand the issue and work to ensure that the child gets medical attention and enjoys a healthy lifestyle.
What Is A Seizure?
The neurons in our brain, communicate using electric impulses. When a large number of neurons, send these impulses simultaneously, the electrical activity in the brain spikes, which causes the brain to function abnormally. This is known as a seizure and causes various reactions like black-outs, muscle spasms or other abnormal activities.
It is a common myth that seizures involve convulsions or losing consciousness, however sometimes seizures may show no symptoms. It all depends on which part of the brain is affected by the seizure.
Types Of Seizures
To help better treat your child, it is imperative to understand what type of seizure your child is affected by. Seizures can be broadly classified as focal and generalised.
Also known as partial seizures, these affect only a part of the brain. Depending on which part it affects, the symptoms and severity may change.
There are two types of focal seizures simple and complex. In case of simple focal seizures, your child will not lose consciousness but will however display an array of symptoms including running, screaming, nausea. Complex focal seizures affect the temporal lobe and hence your child may have altered consciousness and may or may not pass out.
These seizures affect the brain as a whole and your child will lose consciousness. Generalised seizures are further divided as:
- Absence seizures
- Atonic seizures
- Generalised tonic-clonic seizures
- Febrile seizures
- Myoclonic seizures
Causes of Seizure
A seizure can be caused by a number of reasons such as:
- Neurotransmitter imbalance
- Tumours in the brain
- Brain damage caused by injury, illness, infections or other disorders
- Side effect of some medicines or drugs
- Blood vessel disorders
In most cases pinpointing the exact cause may prove to be impossible, as usually seizures are caused by a combination of these causes.
If your child has experienced an episode of seizure, your doctor may run some tests to figure out any underlying conditions. Tests include:
- Blood Tests
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- EEG (Electroencephalogram) to test electrical activity in the brain
- Neurological tests
- PET scans
- Lumbar puncture, to test the cerebrospinal fluid
These tests along with a thorough analysis of medical history and symptoms, help your doctor chart out the best course of action.
The aim of the treatment is to prevent seizures from recurring, thus preventing epilepsy. There are various methods to treat seizures
Treatment in most cases is done with the help of anti-seizure drugs or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). The medication prescribed depends on the type of seizure, side effects, and medical history.
In some cases, your doctor will recommend a neurosurgery to remove a small portion of the brain which is responsible for seizures. There are a number of types of epilepsy surgeries, the exact choice of surgery depends on a number of factors.
Surgeries have been found to be extremely effective in cases where the seizures always seem to arise from a particular region of the brain.
It has been found that a high fat low carb diet can in fact reduce the chances of recurring seizures in children. This diet works especially well in treating focal seizures.
Things to Remember When Your Child Is Having A Seizure?
Seeing your child experiencing a seizure could cause a great deal of disquietude. Here are some important things to keep in your mind:
- Keep them in a safe area, where they can’t get hurt. Laying them on the ground is ideal.
- Loosen any clothing around their neck and any tight-fitting clothes.
- Do not restrain movements or try to place any objects in their mouths.
Call an ambulance or the emergency helpline number immediately if your child:
- Has a seizure for the first time
- Is wheezing
- Turns blue
- Has any brain injuries
- May have ingested any poison or drug
- Has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes
- Is suffering from cardiac problems