Epilepsy is one of the most common childhood brain disorder, and about two-thirds of all children with epilepsy outgrow their seizures by the time they are teenagers. So it is very important for the caregivers to help their child maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure regular medical visits. Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which suffers from recurring seizures. Seizures are caused by anything that injures the brain, including head injuries, infections, poisoning or even brain development problems prior to birth. There are different types of seizures, some are short, and some last for a few seconds, while others can last a few minutes.
Signs of a Seizure Disorder in a Child-
- Jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Stiffening of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Breathing problems or stopping breathing
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, especially when associated with loss of consciousness.
Epilepsy affects every child differently depending on:
- Types of seizures
- Response to treatment
- Having other health issues, etc
Some people with seizures can control their seizures with medication and can easily outgrow them all together.
In the current time, the development in medicine and health care services, the epilepsy is more manageable. Many new anti-convulsant medications are available and more are being tested. Alternative treatments are also developed for children who continue to have seizures while on medication.
Diagnosis for Epilepsy
Diagnosis is made by identifying a condition or disease based on signs and symptoms. An epilepsy diagnosis is generally made when seizures occur more than once without an identifiable reason, such as fever or injury. The major diagnosis process involved-
- Detailed medical history- this includes questions regarding the mother’s pregnancy and delivery, any relatives with epilepsy, and if the child had a high fever, serious head injury and periods of staring, inattention or breath-holding.
- A detailed account of the seizures- the person(s) who were present at the time of child’s seizures should communicate with the doctor and should tell all the details about the seizures.
- Physical examination- assessment of cardiac, neurological, and mental health.
- Blood test- blood test is done to identify causes or other significant illness.
- CAT or CT scan- Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) or CT scan is used to determine the neurological lesion or illness.
- EEG- Electroencephalogram is used to assess the risk of seizure recurrence and may help determine seizure type and epilepsy syndrome.
- MRI- Magnetic resonance Image produces images of a child’s brain for evaluating children with new-onset seizures or seizures that may have started in a particular part of the brain.
After the examination, tests and a period of observations, a doctor determines whether a child has epilepsy.
Also Read: Living with Epilepsy is Frightening, Treat it before it Gets Too Late
Treatment guidelines after diagnosis
After the diagnosis, the parents should work closely with child’s doctor to classify what type(s) of seizures the child is having, and what kind of epilepsy the child has, and discuss treatment options.
Treatment for Epilepsy
Every child is different, so their treatment procedure is also different. Treatment for epilepsy starts with medications. However, epilepsy is a complex condition, and every child response towards treatment may differ.
Seizures Prevention Drugs
There are many drugs which prevent seizures, and they are called as anti-epilepsy drugs (AEDS) or anticonvulsant drugs, on the market and new ones in development. However, it sometimes takes a while to find the one that works best for each child. If medication is not effective, then other options include-
- Brain surgery
- Medical devices to prevent and control seizures
- Dietary therapies, e.g. Ketogenic diet, modified Atkins diet, low glycemic index treatment, etc.
The child should take the medication as prescribed by the doctor, and if seizures do not appear for a few years during medication, then medication can be stopped after consulting the doctor.
The risk from Epilepsy
Epilepsy can cause mood or learning disorder. Headaches, ulcers, and other physical conditions can also develop.