Epilepsy is defined as abnormal body movement which originates from the electrical disturbance in the brain. This leads to seizures and some children experience repetitive seizures. As per data, epilepsy is the most common brain disorder in children aged below 17 years as millions of children fall prey to epilepsy seizure. In order to spread awareness regarding epilepsy, Dr. Puja Kapoor, Paediatric Neurologist & Co-founder of Continua kids shares some important information about this brain disorder.
Causes of Epilepsy in kids
Here are some of the major causes of epilepsy brain disorder that parents must know about:
- Genetic, which runs in families
- Infection, could be tuberculosis, bacterial infection, viral infection, Neurocysticercosis, or any other organism
- Metabolic, generally is associated with other symptoms like developmental delay, small, large head size, increased liver, spleen size etc.
- Intellectual disability, autism: these have 30% higher chances of epilepsy than general population.
- Malformation of brain
These are the primary causes of epilepsy and if a parent notice symptoms of epilepsy in their children, they must report it to a doctor. Timely diagnosis is very important in such cases to prevent complications.
Types of seizures in children
Here are four major types of epilepsy in children as told by Dr. Puja Kapoor:
- Generalized: In this whole body is involved, like both upper or lower limbs.
- Focal: In this one side of body is involved, in which localization in the brain is of opposite of which side body is involved.
- Absence: In this loss of consciousness happens, or “staring “episodes happen multiple times per day, lasting for few seconds each.
- Myoclonic jerks: These are jerk like movements which could be easily missed, as they are too short in duration.
There are two major types- generalized and focal. There are subtypes of these that are found in children.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a disorder, testing is very important. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can be identified with various diagnostic tests. Here are some tests that can help in diagnosing epilepsy:
- MRI brain/ CT brain: This test help in finding the cause of the seizure. It delineates any structural malformation or space occupying lesion in the brain, like tumor, tuberculoma etc.
- EEG (Electroencephalogram): This test defines the electrical activity of the brain, and helps to find the type of epilepsy. There are certain pattens of EEG which helps to define the genetic epilepsies.
- Genetic testing: This test is done when there is a high suspicion of genetic involvement.
- Metabolic Testing: These are specialized tests to find the metabolic derangements in the body.
- Lumbar Puncture: Fluid is taken from the spine to check for infection in the brain and find the organism causing the infection.
Treatment of Epilepsy
Can epilepsy be cured? Well, there are multiple antiepileptic medications available which are used depending on the cause of the epilepsy. There are certain medications which are contraindicated in certain type of epilepsy and certain medication are first line medication to be used in specific epilepsy. The duration of medications also vary from months to years depending on the cause of epilepsy. These medications should be used on a given fixed time on a regular basis. Any change in the prefixed time can precipitate the seizure.
Emergency management of Epilepsy
- Do not panic
- Put the child in the lateral position
- Make sure the child has not got hurt due to the fall from the seizure
- Give intranasal Midazolam spray, in the nostril, as prescribed by the doctor and fix an appointment for the visit
- If the seizure does not settle, rush to the hospital.
Children with epilepsy, under treatment, should not be allowed sports like swimming and driving motorized vehicles. As these activities could cause threat to life, if a seizure comes during the activity, so should be avoided.
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