I can recall vividly how my mother, who was a nurse at the company that sponsored my school felt really sorry for my epileptic friend, Kennedy, explaining to us what was happening to him when the seizures took over. We just never got it.
Fast forward to today, as I researched on this topic, a nurse, Josephine Keya, was my major source of information; having over 30 years experience. And this is what she tells me.
‘Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition that affects children and adults alike. It is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. In many cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown; however, medical experts have linked these seizures to excessive abnormal neuronal activities in a child’s brain which could have been caused by a severe head injury or a difficult birth. Other suspected causes may include low blood sugar level or meningitis. Epileptic seizures can be controlled through proper medication but not cured completely.
In as much as epilepsy may affect adults, some similar syndromes are only limited to children anytime after birth. Studies show that the condition may affect one in every 200 children. And once this has happened, most parents seek to find reasons why the child has this disorder.
You may find yourself beginning to blame it on yourself or family. Instead of stressing and brooding over this, seek counsel; your doctor may be able to shed more light on why your child has developed epilepsy and advice you on the best treatment options at the time. It is worth remembering that for most children, it is just one of those things that happen. Though difficult, try to keep calm especially when your child starts having the seizures. This will help you monitor his reactions and put you at a better place to describe to the doctor exactly what happened so that he can be able to place a finger on the route cause of the problem.
Types of epilepsy in children
There are numerous different categories of epilepsy.
However, they all fall under two main groups, that is the generalized types of seizures that are said to impact the entire brain and the myoclonic seizures that tend to affect only a side of a victim’s brain. This could be further classified into either simple, where an affected child remains conscious or complex types where your child may totally lose consciousness.
In view of the fact that epilepsy attacks different parts of a child’s brain, its symptoms vary from one case to another. One of the most prevalent type of seizure in children is called tonic-clonic seizure, which begins with an irritable and unusual attitude.
This causes your baby’s body muscles to contract and his body becoming stiffened. During this time his body may jerk violently and after a while shriek and fall unconscious. When your child comes to, you may see he feels a little drowsy and some go straight to sleep.
Your child may also lose bladder or bowel control or even vomit. They may also appear really exhausted and confused. Headache may occur after the seizure.
How then do you respond to your child’s attack?
■ Prevent your child from self injury by moving him away from sharp objects. You could do this by placing something soft beneath his head.
■ Carefully roll him into recovery position
■ You could loosen his clothing.
■ Place his head facing sideways to allow anything coming from the mouth to drip out easily.
■ Allow the seizure to take its full course, avoiding the temptation to rouse your child.
■ Look out for signs of snoring; this may indicate that your baby is slowly beginning to breathe properly
■ If you notice your child hallucinating, disoriented, distressed or unconscious, reassure them gently.
■ After recovery, observe your child for a while at least until he is completely recovered before you let him go about other activities like play.
■ Observe your child’s mannerism during the seizure, this may help the neurologist to diagnose the type and prescribe medication accordingly.
As stated earlier, there is no total treatment for epilepsy. Experts only control your child’s tendency to have seizures so that they can get on with life with as little disruptions from epilepsy as possible. You may however need to ensure you keep the afflicted child safe. Some doctors will prescribe anticonvulsant drugs which are a lifelong medication and treat symptoms like headaches among others. Epilepsy surgery could be an option only if your child’s seizure are severe and resist anticonvulsant medication. Your doctor will however advise you accordingly if this is required.
Some doctors may advise you to ensure your child’s diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Though the mechanism action is still unknown, studies have proved that such diets reduce the incidents of epilepsy,’ concludes Mrs. Keya.