Seizures are generally described as the sudden and abnormal dysfunction of the brain that results in sudden changes in the behavior as well as movements of various body parts. In this article, we look at the different types of seizure in children, and the causes of the same.
A seizure is actually described as abnormal or excessive neuronal activity of the brain. This sudden electrical activity creates muscle spasms, loss of consciousness, and several other body dysfunctions. Anyone can go through seizures under some circumstances, but children are more prone to suffer from them. Around 5% of children below 15 years of age go through seizures, while 10 in every 1,000 suffer from recurring epileptic seizures.
Type of Seizures in Children
There are different types of seizures that can be categorized by their appearance and the reports of the electroencephalogram patterns (EEG).
A child’s contraction to several illnesses like cold, chickenpox, ear infection, etc., might result in this type of seizures, which is accompanied by high fever. A child whose older siblings have had several incidences of febrile seizures may suffer from similar episodic seizures.
This type of seizure occurs within the first month of the child’s birth. Most of the time, it occurs as soon as the child is born. Neonatal seizures are quite hard to recognize, as the newborn doesn’t have any convulsions, but shows several symptoms like focal misdirection (both eyes set in different directions), lip smacking, and periods of breathlessness.
Atonic seizures actually make children go off balance and fall suddenly to the ground with a sudden loss of muscle tone in an unresponsive manner. These are also called drop attacks.
GTC (Generalized Tonic Clonic seizures) are defined in five distinguishing stages― contract (contraction of the legs, arms, and other body parts), straighten out (extended body parts), tremor (sudden shaking of the body), clonic period (sudden contraction-relaxation of the body), and the postictal period (sleepiness, problems with speech, vision along with fatigue and body aches).
This type is said to be the rarest, and occur in children between 3 months to a year of age. During this type of seizure, the infant is most probably at the point of awakening with certain periodic movements of the neck, legs, or the trunk, that last for a few seconds or more. They are also called infantile spasms, which are quite dangerous with several long-term complications.
Myoclonic seizures are generally characterized by quick movements of a large group of muscles in several parts of the body. These seizures occur several times during a day, for several days in a row.
- Infections or high fever
- Chemical imbalance of the body that causes loss of metabolism
- Congenital conditions or trauma
- Genetic factors and family history
- Brain tumors and neurological problems
- Habits of the mother, like smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs, and certain medications
When the child goes through several seizures without any specific reason, it is called epilepsy.
The intensity and the degree of seizures vary according to the type of seizure. Following are the probable symptoms that indicate that a child is having seizures.
- Jerking movements of the body
- Staring, rapid eye blinking, loss of consciousness, confused appearance
- Breathing problem and incontinence
- Falling without any specific reason and unresponsiveness for several minutes
- Lips turning blue in color
The sudden movements of the body parts are most often followed by disorientation and a long period of deep sleep. Most symptoms may also resemble other medical conditions, so it is best to consult a doctor and start treatment of the same.
There are various methods that can diagnose the actual type of seizures, as well as make it easy to plan the treatment for it. Along with the appearance and the EEG, following are the other diagnostic methods used to detect seizures:
- Blood tests
- MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- CT scan (Computerized Tomography scan)
- Lumbar Puncture (removal of a small amount of the CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) and performing tests on it.
Treatment options for seizures in children are recommended as per the condition of the particular child. These specifications will depend mainly on the age, overall health, and medical history of the child. The type, degree, and intensity of the seizure will also determine the line of treatment. The obvious goal behind the treatment is to stop or decease the frequency of the seizures, without affecting the normal growth. Medications as per the type of seizure, timely blood and urine tests, EEGs to keep a check on the progress of the child as per the medication that is being provided, and a ketogenic diet are the possible curative measures that are adopted by health care providers.
In most cases, seizures in children are a passing phase and don’t really require lifetime medication, if provided with an early diagnosis and proper child care. Never overlook the symptoms and keep a regular follow-up with your health care provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.