Dr Inyang Takon, Consultant Paediatrician at OSD Healthcare, provides insight on epilepsy, a common childhood condition including symptoms and available treatment options.
Epilepsy refers to recurrent unprovoked seizures and there are several types of epilepsy. The condition will raise many questions for parents, including:
- What’s the cause?
- Can the seizures cause brain damage?
- Will this happen again?
- Will they return to their normal selves after this seizure?
- How long will this continue for?
- Has it affected the child’s brain. Will my child survive?
Seizures can occur without any preceding cause or warning and can vary in length, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. Not all episodes are the same and can differ for each individual child with a variety of behaviours being present at the time of an episode. Sufferers can appear or experience the following:
- Vacant behaviour (appearing absent or confused)
- Stiffness of the limbs known as tonic stiffening
- Jerkiness (shaking movements) of the limbs
Noting details of the pattern of the seizures by an eye witness present at the time, is very important and usually helps with the diagnostic assessment of children with epilepsy. Keeping detailed accounts also aids in recognising the warning signs prior to the onset of an episode and can help to create an effective seizure safe plan.
Dr Takon explains
“Children who have suffered their first seizure need to be seen preferably within two weeks by a doctor with expertise in epilepsy. Children with suspected epilepsy usually need to have an EEG ( brain wave tracing) to check if there are abnormal wave discharges. The EEG is usually requested by the doctor to help with supporting the diagnostic assessment. Children can still be diagnosed with epilepsy if the EEG is negative. The description and video recording of the seizure episodes are the key factors needed in making the diagnosis of epilepsy.”
The condition is mainly managed through drug treatment however there are other treatments available if there is poor response to medication. Children with epilepsy need long term monitoring whilst being treated.
The Specialist Paediatricians Team at OSD Healthcare is made up of Consultant Paediatricians with a special interest in epilepsy and experienced Consultant Neurophysiologists. If you are a concerned parent or would like more information, please contact us for an appointment.