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A Complete Guide To Childhood Epilepsy!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Vineet Bhushan Gupta 88% (99 ratings)
Diploma in Child Health (DCH), MRCPCH, MRCP (UK), MD - Paediatrics, MBBS
Pediatrician, Delhi  •  34 years experience
A Complete Guide To Childhood Epilepsy!

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that leads to recurrent seizures. Seizures arise when electrical activity in the brain suddenly surges causing a temporary disturbance within the messaging systems located between the brain cells.

Epilepsy is more common in children below the age of two years and adults above the age of 65 years.

Seizure Types

Seizures are classified into two main categories depending on their area of impact. 

A focal seizure is one that affects only one part or area of the brain whereas a generalised seizure affects the whole brain. Further, both focal and generalised seizures have various sub-categories which are as follows-

Previous nomenclature-

Partial Seizure

• Simple Partial Seizure
• Complex Partial Seizure
• Partial Seizure with Secondary Generalization

Generalized Seizure

• Absence Seizures
• Myoclonic Seizure
• Atonic Seizure
• Tonic Seizure
• Tonic-clonic Seizure
• Mixed Seizure
Status Epilepticus

Latest nomenclature of seizure types:

Focal seizures-

• Focal aware seizures
• Focal impaired awareness seizures (previously called complex partial seizures)
. Bilateral tonic clonic seizures

Generalised onset seizures-

• Tonic clonic seizures.
• Atonic seizures (sometimes called drop attacks) and tonic seizure.
• Myoclonic seizures.
• Absence seizures.

Symptoms

The well know symptom of epilepsy is a convulsion/ fit, a few other symptoms include-

• Intermittent spells of fainting. When this happens the patient is likely to lose control of his/her bladder or bowel movements. Following this, the person is likely to suffer from extreme tiredness.
• Spells of a blackout with difficulty in remembering
• Becoming unresponsive to any instructions or questions asked during brief periods of time
• Bouts of continuous blinking without any known reason
• Inappropriate movements that keep on occurring
• Changes in sensory perceptions
• Sudden stiffness in the body

Reasons for Epilepsy

Messaging systems within the brain are responsible for every function that goes about in your body. A disruption to this system caused by defective electrical activity leads to epilepsy in a person. Many people inherit epilepsy while others may develop this condition as a result of-

• Head trauma sustained during an accident
• A stroke or a tumour that has affected the brain impairing its normal capabilities
• An injury to the brain before or during birth
• Associated with developmental issues
• Infections of the brain

Treatment for Epilepsy

Epilepsy in childhood can be treated by using medications and by adopting dietary changes in some cases. Medications for epilepsy mainly include-

• Anticonvulsants - Helps control seizures and manages the symptoms of epilepsy
• Medications for nerve pain - Reduce pain that is caused by the damaged nerves

These medications should be consumed as and when prescribed by the doctor. You must consult a paediatrician for this, as he/she will take your child’s physical and mental in consideration before starting the treatment.

Seizures that occur in childhood may be benign. This means that it will not continue into one’s adult life. Further, those children who have suffered from epilepsy in their childhood have been seen to have normal mental and intellectual development in their adulthood. However, some epilepsy syndromes in children can have a devastating effect on the child.

Seizure threshold is a term that is used to refer to the conditions that are important for the production of seizures. The threshold is lower for people who are more prone to having seizures whereas the threshold is higher for those who do not have a tendency to suffer from seizures.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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