If your child has epilepsy it is very natural to have questions and concerns. Just after my oldest son had his first seizure, when he was in his early teens, I remember being very frightened not knowing much about epilepsy. These feelings were made worse because we weren't with him. Not only were we not there to help we didn't know what to expect, what was a seizure really like? Would he ever do all the things other children did and what would happen when he reached adulthood?
The days and months that followed the initial diagnosis of epilepsy were filled with questions and thanks to wonderful doctors filled with answers. Be sure to develop a good open relationship with your child's doctors and ask any questions you may have. In addition to their regular pediatrician or health care provider, a child with epilepsy will see a neurologist or epileptologist (a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy). Your child will see their neurologist on a regular basis. It is important for your child that you ask all questions you may have and are fully informed as to the treatment plan.
A child with epilepsy can play and live a a normal life, just like children without epilepsy. They go to school, run, play, ride a bike and more. They grow and as adults can do anything. Epilepsy is not contagious, you don't catch it from someone nor do you give it to anyone. It is not an illness and it is not a form of retardation. It is highly recommended that children with epilepsy wear a medical id tag. An epilepsy id tag for children will identify them as having epilepsy so that they receive appropriate medical attention in the event of a seizure. You can read more about medical identification tags for epilepsy at the bottom of this page.
The information in this section is not meant to replace a doctor's advice or care. This section on epilepsy is intended to give an overview of epilepsy and to let you know other parents are faced with similar issues. It can help you find related information whether it is your child, another family member or your child's friend who is diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a fairly common neurological condition. The child with epilepsy will have repeated seizures. The frequency of epileptic seizure will vary from person to person and there are different types of seizures. These seizures are caused by bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Sometimes it is not known what causes epilepsy, other times it's cause can be traced to something like a head injury, a tumor in the brain, or a stroke.
Epilepsy will be diagnosed after several tests are performed. These tests will most likely include an EEG. An EEG is an electroencephalogram which records brainwave activity. It is performed by placing electrodes on the scalp. The electrodes are not painful and are not inserted into skin but lie on the skin. For about an hour the brainwave activity is monitored and recorded. Longer or additional testing might be needed.
There are several different types of seizures. Seizures last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. A person may or may not remember having a seizure.
The seizure may be mild and as simple as the person staring off into space, an absence seizure, (petit mal seizure) with or without slight muscle twitches. The seizure many people think of when they here epilepsy are the grand mal seizures. In the grand mal seizure the person will fall to the ground, their body will stiffen and muscles begin to twitch and spasm. There are other different types of epilepsy, each with different symptoms. The seizure symptoms vary with each type and from person to person. Consult with your child's doctor as to what to expect when your child has an epileptic seizure and what to do when your child has a seizure. While it may be scary to see and you might feel helpless the best thing you can do for your child is to be prepared.
These general guidelines about what to do during a seizure are widely accepted but be sure to consult with your child's doctor to be sure you understand what to do.
If your child has epilepsy we recommend a small notebook that will be used to keep track of seizures. This will assist your child's doctor in determining the treatment plan and the medication schedule. An absence seizure rarely requires treatment but make a note as to the time of the seizure and how long it lasted. If there is something that may pose a danger near the person having a seizure, remove it.
For seizures that involve muscle spasms, twitching or convulsing the first step is to make sure nothing near the person will cause injury. Slide tables, chair, glasses and so on out of the area. Do not try to hold the person down, do not place anything in their mouth. Keep track of the length of the seizure. Remember that seizures typically last on seconds to minutes though it might seem longer.
After the seizure has ended try to get your child to lie on their side in case there is any vomiting. If they have sustained any physical injury when they fell, have post seizure vomiting, have more than one seizure in an hour, call for emergency help. Also if the seizure lasts over five minutes (consult your doctor as to their guidelines) call for emergency help. Other instances may require emergency treatment so again consult your child's doctor as to what to expect and what to do in the event of a seizure. The guidelines we give are based on what we were instructed, your child's case may be different.
Be sure to follow up with your child's doctors office after a seizure to determine if a visit is needed.
Medical id tags are very important with many health conditions. Protect your children at all times with a medical ID. If your child has epilepsy they should always wear a medical id tag for epilepsy. This tag is a bracelet or necklace that will alert caregivers that your child has epilepsy. It is very important that they always wear their epilepsy id tag. There are epilepsy id tags for children and adults in several styles including bracelets, necklaces dog tag style and more. You can read more about Medical Id Tags for Children