A seizure is a disruption of the electrical communication between neurons. There are different types of seizures ranging from subtle absences up to life threatening tonic clonic movement (vigorous shaking) in which sudden stiffening and shaking of body associated with unresponsiveness,loss of consciousness, frothing, tongue bite, clinching of jaws, etc. During seizure, the patient may have any one of these symptoms or all of them could be present together. Seizures are caused by a sudden burst of electric activity in the brain.
Someone is said to have epilepsy if they experience two or more unprovoked seizures separated by at least 24 hours. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. The epilepsies have many possible causes and there are several types of seizures. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity—from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development—can lead to seizures.
Epilepsy may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signalling chemicals called neurotransmitters, changes in important features of brain cells called channels, or some combination of these and other factors. Many times, a doctor may not able to pin point the exact cause of epilepsy.
How do you Diagnose Epilepsy?
A good history of event and proper evaluation by a Child Neurologists paramount in reaching the correct diagnosis. The correct diagnosis is very important not only for the treatment but also to predict the nature of the epilepsy and other comorbid conditions in the future. A doctor might ask for some blood tests along with an EEG (brain wave test) and MRI brain to find out the cause of seizures.
Once epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible. For about 70 percent of those diagnosed with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with modern medicines, special diet and surgical techniques depending upon the diagnosis. Some drugs are more effective for specific types of seizures. An individual with seizures, particularly those that are not easily controlled, may want to see a neurologist specifically trained to treat epilepsy. In some children, special diets (Ketogenic diet) may help to control seizures when medications are either not effective or cause serious side effects.
While epilepsy cannot be cured, more than 70% of children with the seizures can be controlled with medication, diet, devices, and/or surgery. Most seizures do not cause brain damage, but on-going uncontrolled seizures may cause brain damage. About 30% of children with epilepsy may suffer from other issues like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), Autism, sleeping disorders, behavioral disorders or poor performance in the school. So it is important to monitor the child to identify them and treat these issues at earliest.
- During the seizure, do not panic; take a note of time if possible.
- Please do not put anything, water, spoon, finger, food, etc.) into the mouth to prevent the clenching of teeth.
- Try to keep the child in a safe and flat surface.
- Do not restrain the child
- Loosen any tight clothes. Make a video the event if possible.
- Take help from another person; keep yourself ready to take the child to the hospital if seizure does not stop within five minutes. Your doctor may have given some nasal spray which you can use at this stage in the doses advised and make your way to the hospital, if this is first seizure at home.
- If the seizure settles, keep the child in left lateral position, recovery position.
- Inform your local paediatric neurologist for complete assessment and further management.
Children need answers. If epilepsy or another health problem affects your child, someone else in the family, or a friend, should give the facts and let your child ask questions. If you keep the lines of communication open, your relationship will be strengthened.
Above all, tell the truth. If your children sense that you are lying to them or not telling them everything, they may not believe other things you tell them in the future.
Encourage your children to ask questions, and have resources available to help them understand your answers. Children are curious by nature, so they will ask questions, but they will do it in their own time and in their own way. If your child asks something that you cannot answer, say that you will find the information as soon as you can. Then follow through. You may find the answer on this site, or you may need to talk to the doctor or nurse.
The most important message for any child is that people with epilepsy are just like everyone else. They deserve respect and understanding, not teasing and cruelty.
- Emphasize the positive; praise success.
- Build on things your child likes and can do.
- Avoid describing your child's seizures or the financial burden of medical care as problems in front of your child.
- Encourage a special hobby or lessons to acquire a special skill.
- Discuss seizures and epilepsy openly with your child and answer his or her questions about it.
- Encourage your child to be active and to have as much social contact with other children as possible.
- Try not to make your child's seizures a reason not to do things the family would otherwise do, or fail to discipline your child on that account.
- Take some time for yourself without feeling guilty about it.