Epilepsy in Children

Epilepsy in Children

Finding out you’re going to be a parent is life changing. Some people panic. Some people experience pure joy when the pregnancy is confirmed. Some do both. But if there’s one common denominator, it’s that everyone wants their child to be born with good health.

So when the OB-GYN confirms baby’s development is coming along beautifully, there’s a collective sigh of relief.

But what happens if one night, your newborn baby seems to be having seizures? Or what if, in the middle of storytime, your child starts convulsing?

The following blog is an overview of epilepsy in children.

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal resulting in unpredictable seizures. The types of seizures can vary widely: Some people simply stare ahead, vacantly, while others have the more typical twitching or thrashing of arms and legs, accompanied by a loss of consciousness.

While epilepsy involves seizures, it’s important to know that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy.

Sometimes, children will experience a seizure while having a high fever, chickenpox, or an ear infection. This is a result of abnormal brain activity related to the illness the child is going through. However, having a seizure does not mean a child has epilepsy. It may just be the result of infection. Once cured, the seizures usually stop.

That said, when a child has two or more seizures that are unrelated to an underlying illness, the abnormal brain activity may be the result of epilepsy.

When brain cells discharge abnormally high electrical impulses, it causes involuntary jerks and movements and loss of consciousness.

What causes epilepsy in children?

The potential causes of epilepsy in children include:

  • Developmental disorder
  • Genetic disorder
  • Family history
  • Prenatal injury
  • Infectious diseases
  • Brain injury

However, sometimes the cause is unknown.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Symptoms will vary, depending on the age of the child.

Epilepsy Symptoms in Babies

It may not be completely obvious when a baby has a seizure since a lot of babies’ movements are involuntary. However, some of the signs of a seizure include:

  • Changes in breathing pattern
  • Inability to focus attention
  • Stiff limbs
  • Unusual movement of eyelids
  • Limpness and unresponsiveness

Epilepsy Symptoms in Children

  • Staring into space unresponsive
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Confusion
  • Falling for no apparent reason
  • Non-responsiveness to noise

Risk Factors That May Cause Epilepsy in Children

Sometimes, there’s no known reason why a child develops epilepsy. However, there are several risk factors that may increase their likelihood. The most common ones are the following:

Can epilepsy start at any age?

There are different types of seizures (generalized or focal), and they can start at any age during a child’s life. It’s also important to note that not all children who develop epilepsy will continue to have it past childhood.

Types of Seizures

Generalized: These types of seizures occur when abnormal brain activity happens on both sides of the brain. These are the most common and the type of seizures people picture when thinking of epilepsy. The entire body jerks in sudden movements while the person is unconscious.

When a person experiences a generalized seizure, their eyes roll up. They may bite their tongue hard. Their skin tone may change color, and their breathing may become obstructed. To keep the person from choking, roll them over to their side.

Focal: The electric impulses happen on only one side of the brain, and the person is aware of what’s going on around him or her. Only a part of the body starts jerking and may gradually spread to other parts of the body.

Even within generalized and focal seizures, there are subgroups. They can range from barely perceptible to violent jerking of muscles and limbs. The duration of each seizure could vary from several seconds to several minutes.

Complications of Epilepsy in Children

Complications of epilepsy can be serious. Depending on the type of seizure and what triggered it, a child may experience:

  • Violent behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Severely injuring tongue or cheeks by biting them during a seizure
  • Poriomania (aimless wandering and amnesia)
  • Injuries from hitting head or body parts during seizures
  • Drowning if swimming or bathing when a seizure occurs
  • Sleep apnea
  • Psychological disorders
  • In people with numerous seizures, it can cause death (known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, or SUDEP).

How to Prevent Epilepsy Seizures

There are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of having seizures. The best way to prevent them is to know what triggers them in the first place. For some children, it may be stressful events or a lack of adequate sleep. Sometimes, it may be regular flashes of light, such as from watching television or playing with electronics, such as smartphones, computers, or tablets.

Once you know what triggers them, modify the child’s behavior and schedule accordingly.

  • Make sure they get enough sleep
  • Engage them in playtime that involves books or toys or something other than electronics
  • Make sure the child takes all prescribed antiepileptic medications
  • Learn relaxation techniques for when the child seems to be stressed

Treatment for Children with Epilepsy

Most children with epilepsy are treated with antiepileptic medications. The good news is that for many children, the need for medication is temporary. However, each patient has to take into account their medical history and the type of epilepsy they have. So while online research serves as a starting point, the only way to know for sure what’s best for your child’s treatment is to talk with your child’s pediatrician.

Related Article: How to Care for a Child With Epilepsy

Contact Sonas for Epilepsy Home Care Services in Florida

If your child is experiencing seizures and you need assistance with home care, we can help.

Contact us to discuss all of your available options. Whether that means entrusting us with your child’s care or going another route, we want to provide you with all of the answers and resources you need.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.