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Children with epilepsy

children with epilepsy

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What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is related to the electrical activity in our brains. This activity is happening all the time but if there is a sudden burst of electricity – often referred to epileptic activity – this can mix up the messages, resulting in an epileptic seizure.

There are different kinds of seizures and these are dictated by where the electrical activity starts and where it spreads after that.

Children with epilepsy may show symptoms that include , confusion, staring blankly or uncontrollable jerking movements. They may also lose consciousness or awareness. It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and whilst it’s not painful it can be upsetting for children and parents.

To be diagnosed with epilepsy your child will have had more than one seizure and will be likely to have more. If your child has one seizure, it doesn’t mean they have epilepsy. As there is no definitive test for epilepsy  your doctor will be interested in what happens before, after and during a seizure and if there are any other factors to consider such as head injury, a difficult birth or infection of the brain. Addition testing can be done through scans in order to see where the electrical activity is happening in the brain.

What causes it and can it be prevented?

As discussed above, epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal brain activity but the cause isn’t always known. Sometimes it can be brought about by a difficult birth resulting in lack of oxygen, sometimes it can be caused by a brain injury or infection. Statistically, in most children the causes of epilepsy are unknown.

Epilepsy is not always permanent – some children may outgrow it and in some people it lasts for life.

And the causes may not be always be known but there are some things you can do to help prevent it. For example keeping your child up to date on their immunisations will protect against certain illnesses (such as meningitis) that might lead to epilepsy. It comes as second nature anyway but making sure your child is protected from head injuries is another preventative measure – make sure when taking part in relevant sports that a helmet is worn and always use the right car seat – it will provide protection in an accident and could save your child’s life. As an ex employee of a children’s retailer it’s easy for me to suggest you have the correct car seat but when there is so much car safety advice available, there’s no excuse for winging it – if you’re not sure how to fit it, go to a store and they will help you, it’s their job to do so!

children with epilepsy

If your child is epileptic

It’s undoubtedly not the news you were hoping for but if your child has been having seizures then on the other hand, you do have an answer now. And once you have an answer you can work out how to manage it. There are over 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK so you are not alone and there are different treatments available to help manage your child’s epilepsy.

Epilepsy medicines (sometimes referred to as anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs) act on the brain to try and reduce or prevent the seizures altogether. There are different versions available and it can take some trial and error to find the right medicine for your child. For lots of people, once they find the right combination, seizures are reduced or sometimes stop altogether.

If medicine is not the right solution for your family then there are also specialised diets that can help and in more extreme cases, surgery or nerve stimulation.

Living with epilepsy

In terms of the future, there are lots of things you can do to help your child. Some people choose to wear identity bracelets or carry a medical card which explains their condition and these can be helpful if they have a seizure in a public place – this is obviously more applicable as your child gets older and starts to go places without you. There is plenty of information online explaining the different versions available.

If you have concerns about safety around the home then your local Social Services may be able to arrange for an occupational therapist to visit your home and make some recommendations. There are things you can do already such as using corner cushions on tables, opting for carpets rather than hard floors – these are in case your child falls whilst having a seizure – but having an occupational therapist visit may put your mind at rest to make sure you’re doing everything possible.



About Celyn Parry

About Celyn Parry

Celyn Parry has 12 years experience working with a leading children’s retailer but is now focusing on her passion for writing. With many years spent on the shop floor listening to parents, she prides herself on creating down to earth articles with a dash of humour and personal insight. As Step-Mum to adorable chatterbox Max, it’s a bit of a juggling act but it certainly keeps things interesting!

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