Essential Information About Seizures In Children

Seizures in children happen for the same reasons that they happen in adults – many of the nerve cells in the brain send out electrical signals simultaneously and this overwhelms the system and triggers a seizure. Seizures in children can be manifested through muscular spasms, loss of consciousness and even erratic behavior.

Seizures in children can be caused by different kinds of causes. High temperatures during fever, inadequate oxygen supply to the brain, an injury to the head or some other illness or disease can all cause the circumstances that can lead to a seizure. Children who experience repeated seizures and where there is no readily identifiable cause may be dealing with epilepsy.  A seizure with no immediately locatable cause is called an idiopathic seizure and this is the case 70 percent of the time. There is no evidence of why these kinds of seizures happen and doctors speculate that this may be because of the way a child’s brain is wired or because of above average levels of the brain chemical called neurotransmitters. There is continuing research on seizures in children and emerging information will help doctors treat different seizures in a more targeted manner.

Given the short and unpredictable nature of seizures, it is not very likely that the doctor will be able to see a child experiencing a seizure. So, when it comes to diagnosing the issue a doctor will have to approach it by ruling out other possible causes for a muscle spasm or loss of consciousness. If doctors feel that there is no extraneous factor such as emotional stress, and no noticeable variation in blood pressure or sugar level and no change in heart rate, they will start considering the possibility of epileptic seizure.  The adult accompanying the child who experienced the seizure will have to describe the episode as accurately as possible to facilitate a proper diagnosis. There are occasional cases where doctors have requested parents to video tape a seizure episode, where there are repeat experiences, to make sure that they have a complete understanding of the child’s problem.

Among the types of seizures in children, the grand mal is the one that can be most easily spotted and diagnosed. Grand mal seizure comes with visible evidence and this is hard for anybody to overlook. However, there is another type called the starting seizure or absences where the signs are not so easy to spot. A child may appear to be daydreaming or just feeling disconnected whereas what is really happening is an episode of a seizure. This is a particularly hard one to diagnose because both the child and the parent may not know about the experience at all.  It is important to mention here that parents should not panic and start worrying about all occasions when a child daydreams or just becomes overly absorbed by the TV. These are normal experiences of childhood and not necessary indications of seizures in children. However, if you notice a child abruptly stop talking or cease some activity in a jerky or unnatural way, it is worth bringing the matter to the attention of your doctors.

Other types of seizures in children include simple or complex partial seizures and these can be misdiagnosed as a psychological condition or migraine. Sometimes they are assumed to be drug or alcohol related and it is important to seek medical help and do the necessary tests to ensure an appropriate intervention. A physical exam, blood tests, EEGs and MRIs are used by doctors in diagnosing seizures in children.  

While seizures are not associated with direct physical pain, a child experiencing seizures will face tremendous physical and emotional difficulties. The loss of control associated with seizures can be physically dangerous, and emotionally it can be very overwhelming for a child to deal with the loss of awareness. So, along with a treatment regimen to deal with the physical reality of the problem, children should also be given the emotional tools and props necessary to deal with this life-altering illness.