Causes and Treatments of Seizures in Children

image001 The word seizure is used to describe a sudden and temporary brain malfunction. Seizures are accompanied by collapsing, convulsions and other side effects which generally cause loss of consciousness. There are different types of seizures and they range from mild to serious, fully blown seizures. Signs of a mild seizure include involuntarily twitching and staring. A serious seizure is not hard to recognize, as it is characterized by unconsciousness and falls. In some cases the patient may lose control of his bladder and bowel movements. While seizures generally last only a minute, some may last longer and go on for over half an hour. This is, however, very rare.

What Are the Symptoms of Seizures in Children?

The symptoms mainly depend on the type of seizures. Some of the signs you may want to look out for include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Body stiffening
  • Staring or rapid blinking
  • Jerking of the legs and arms
  • Sudden falling–this is mostly as a result of unconsciousness
  • Loss of breath or breathing problems
  • State of confusion or the child is in a haze
  • Sudden nodding of the head while unconscious or in a haze
  • Lack of response to words
  • Loss of control of the bladder and bowel movements
  • Bluish lips

It’s vital that you recognize these signs early and seek medical attention for proper diagnosis of your child’s condition.

What Causes Seizures in Children?

It’s difficult to pin point the exact cause of seizures in children since there are various contributing factors. However, the most common are brought about as the following factors.

Seizures in newborns and infants:

  • Chemical or metabolic imbalances in the body
  • Congenital problems mostly present at birth
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Birth trauma

Seizures in children, adolescents and young adults:

  • Drugs such as alcohol
  • Infection
  • Head or brain trauma
  • Genetic factors
  • Congenital problems
  • Unknown factors

Other known causes for seizures include:

  • Certain medications
  • Neurological problems
  • Brain tumor
  • Drug withdrawal
  • Illicit drug use

Here is a video to show you what causes seizures in children:

What to Do When My Child Has Seizures

The first thing you need to do when your child is having a seizure is place him in a safe area preferably on the ground and on his right side. Clear the area of any objects that may be harmful and loosen his clothing. Do not try and stop the seizure by restraining him and do not place an object to stop gritting in between his teeth. Also avoid trying to wedge open the child’s mouth. When the seizure has ended, gently embrace your child in comfort and let him remain on the ground until fully recovered.

Seizures can be exhausting and most of the time the child will come out of it tired, confused and fall into deep sleep. This is known as the postictal period. If the child is sleeping normally, there is no need to wake him up. Avoid feeding the child until he is fully awake and alert. If the child suffers from a febrile seizure which is normally triggered by a fever, your doctor could prescribe medication to help keep the body temperature at a normal rate.

If your child displays any of the following symptoms during a seizure, you need to call 911.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Turns bluish

You also need to call 911 if your child:

  • Is having a seizure for the first time
  • Is having an unexplainable seizure
  • Has a seizure following ingesting medication or poisons
  • Has a heart condition
  • Has a head injury
  • Is sick
  • Lasts longer than 5 minutes

Sometimes the child could breathe normally and have seizures that only last a few minutes, in such cases you could wait out the seizure then call your physician.

How to Treat Seizures in Children

Treatment of seizures is aimed at managing the condition by either stopping the seizures or decreasing their frequency. The treatment should not interfere with the child’s normal development and management of seizures will include:

  • Proper diagnosis
  • Using medication for the type of seizure your child suffers from
  • Maintaining levels of medication that achieve the best results

There are different types of treatments that may be undertaken to treat seizures in children. Your doctor will determine the best treatment course based on:

  • The child’s age, medical history and health
  • The type of seizure
  • The severity of the condition
  • The expected results from the treatment
  • The child’s tolerance and response to certain medications, therapies and procedures
  • Your personal preferences
  • The cost of medication

Treatments for seizures in children include:

1. Medication

Different medications may be used to manage seizures and these could be taken orally, through the rectum or via injection and intravenous means. Our bodies respond differently to medication and the doctor may make adjustments to the dosage and schedule. You need to discuss the possible side effects of the medication with your physician.

2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

When the seizures are not being controlled as they should, the child may have to undergo VNS. However, this treatment is mostly recommended on children above the age of 12. The procedure involves the use of small energy pulses sent from the vagus nerve (which is a nerve in the neck) to the brain. This is a surgical procedure and a small battery is placed within the chest wall with small wires around the nerve. The device sends energy impulses to the brain every few minutes and the child can activate the impulses when he feels an oncoming seizure. These pulses help stop the convulsions from occurring.

3. Surgery

Surgery is usually considered when other forms of treatment fail to control the seizures in children. This is also an option when the seizures start from one area of the brain. The surgery could involve removal of that part of the brain, but this only occurs if that part of the brain can be removed without interfering with important functions such as vision, memory and speech.