Epilepsy in Children

WHAT IS EPILEPSY?


Seizures are caused by a sudden burst of electric activity in the brain. There are different type of seizures ranging from subtle absences up to life threatening tonic clonic movement (shaking) in which sudden stiffening and shaking of body associated with unresponsiveness. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behaviour 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.

IS THERE ANY TREATMENT?

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.

WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?

While epilepsy cannot be cured, for some people 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. Issues may also arise as a result of the stigma attached to having epilepsy, which can led to embarrassment and frustration or bullying, teasing, or avoidance in school and other social settings.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CHILD STARTS FITS AT HOME?

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.

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.