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Epilepsy and seizures

12 May 2022

Epilepsy is a condition that causes children to have repeated seizures without a known reason. If your child experiences a seizure, time it and place them in the recovery position afterwards. Make sure they are breathing properly, and then call 000 if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes. If this is your child's first seizure or if they have recurrent or more frequent seizures, take them to the hospital emergency department or your GP for further evaluation. Many children with epilepsy require antiseizure medication in order to reduce the occurrence of seizures. It is important to help your child avoid any seizure triggers.

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain. This can lead to repeated seizures without any known cause. Seizures can happen when there is a disturbance in the electrical activity in the brain. This can result in changes in a person's awareness, thinking, behaviour, body movements or senses. If a person has one seizure, it doesn't always mean they have epilepsy. Most people who have a single seizure don't have any more seizures. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after two or more seizures have been experienced.

Epilepsy can be caused by a number of factors, including: genetics, developmental and behavioural conditions, disorders linked with large structural changes in the brain, and acquired brain injury.

The risk of epilepsy is increased if a child's immediate family members also have epilepsy. Some common triggers for seizures in children with epilepsy include sleep deprivation, fever, and illness. However, flickering lights are a very rare trigger.

Febrile seizures are seizures that are triggered by fever. If your child has a febrile seizure and is otherwise healthy and you have no family history of epilepsy, the risk of developing epilepsy is only slightly higher than for any other child.

There are many different types of seizures, which fall into two main groups: focal seizures and generalised seizures.

Focal seizures start in one part or on one side of the brain. Symptoms of a focal seizure depend on what part of the brain is affected.

Symptoms might include: muscle twitching in one part of the body, changes to smells, sounds, tastes and sight, numbness, difficulty talking, abnormal behaviour and movements like picking at clothing or lip smacking.

A child’s awareness or responsiveness might change if they’re having a focal seizure.

Generalised seizures start on both sides of the brain at once. There are several different types of generalised seizures, and they have different symptoms: Tonic seizures cause children’s muscles to stiffen. They often happen during sleep. Atonic seizures cause muscle weakness. Children’s heads might slump forward, or they might fall to the ground in a ‘drop attack’. Clonic seizures cause muscles to repeatedly jerk and relax. Myoclonic seizures cause a sudden, very brief muscle jerk. Tonic-clonic seizures start with the body stiffening, then jerking movements develop. The body becomes less stiff as the jerking goes on. Children lose awareness and fall down. Absence seizures involve a sudden loss of awareness. Children stare and don’t respond to touch or voice. These seizures last only a few seconds.

Seizures can be frightening, but it’s important to remember that they are usually not harmful and most children with epilepsy will outgrow it. If you think your child is having a seizure, stay calm and try to time the seizure. It’s also important to keep your child safe by moving away any objects that could hurt them, like furniture or sharp objects. Once the seizure has finished, help your child to lie down and rest until they feel better. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or if your child has multiple seizures, you should call an ambulance.

The best way to deal with an epileptic seizure is to remain calm and make sure that the child is in a safe place where they cannot injure themselves. If it is the child's first seizure, make sure to watch what happens so you can describe it later. If you have a smartphone or camera, take a video of the seizure. Once the seizure has stopped, place your child on a soft surface and stay with them until they recover.

If your child experiences seizures, it is important to see a doctor to get proper treatment. If your child has never had a seizure before, if the seizures are happening more often than usual, or if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

Epilepsy is a condition that can cause seizures. If your GP thinks your child might have epilepsy, the GP will usually refer your child to a paediatrician or neurologist for further investigation. The doctor might order blood tests and an EEG. Your doctor might also organise an MRI scan of your child’s brain.

Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures in children. If your child is diagnosed with epilepsy, your doctor will discuss with you whether your child should take antiseizure medicine. If your doctor prescribes antiseizure medicine for your child, the doctor will let you know whether there might be some side effects to watch out for. If your child is taking antiseizure medicine, they’ll need to see a doctor regularly.

If medicine doesn’t work, your doctor might talk with you about other treatments, including a ketogenic diet or surgical options. If your child has severe, prolonged or frequent seizures, your doctor might give you an emergency medication management plan.

An epilepsy support organisation can help you to develop an epilepsy management plan for child care, school or anyone else who might be caring for your child. This can help your child’s carers understand your child’s epilepsy and how to manage it in case of a seizure.

The best way to prevent epileptic seizures is to ensure that your child takes their antiseizure medicine regularly, and to avoid anything that might trigger a seizure. It is important for your child to have a regular sleep schedule if lack of sleep is one of their seizure triggers. If flickering light triggers your child's seizures, ask your doctor how to avoid it. Be sure to watch your child closely during a seizure, and talk to other parents who have children with epilepsy for support. You can join a face-to-face or online support group for additional help and guidance.

With the proper precautions in place, you can help prevent epileptic seizures and ensure that your child enjoys a healthy, happy life. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about epilepsy and seizure prevention.

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