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Epilepsy In Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures. An abnormal area in your child's brain sometimes sends bursts of electrical activity that cause his seizures. A birth defect, tumor, stroke, injury, or infection may cause epilepsy. The cause of your child's epilepsy may not be known. If your child's seizures are not controlled, his epilepsy may become life-threatening.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your child's seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- Your child has trouble breathing.
- Your child has a seizure and is diabetic.
- Your child has a seizure in water.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your child has a second seizure that happens within 24 hours of his first.
- Your child is injured during a seizure.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child is depressed or has thoughts of suicide.
- Your child's seizures happen more often.
- Your child is confused longer than usual after a seizure.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
- Antiepileptic medicine will be given to control your child's seizures. He may need medicine daily to prevent seizures or during a seizure to stop it. Do not stop giving your child this medicine.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your child's neurologist as directed:
Your child may need tests to check the level of antiseizure medicine in his blood. Your child's neurologist may need to change or adjust his medicine. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during visits.
Important things to know about epilepsy in children:
- Give your child's medicine every day at the same time to prevent seizures and side effects.
- Feed your child foods recommended by his healthcare provider or nutritionist. Your child may need to follow this diet if medicine cannot control his seizures.
- Keep a seizure diary to help find your child's triggers and avoid them. Write down the dates of your child's seizures, where he was, and what he was doing. Include how he felt before and after. Possible triggers include illness, lack of sleep, lights, or stress.
- Create a care plan. Tell family, friends, teachers, and healthcare providers about your child's epilepsy. Give them instructions that tell them how to keep your child safe if he has a seizure. Learn how to give your child rescue medicine during a seizure. Teach others how to give him medicine.
- Find support. Your child may be referred to a psychologist or social worker. Ask about support groups for children with epilepsy.
- Ask what safety precautions your child should take. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about bathing and swimming. He may also recommend you add bed rails or padding on the sides of your child's bed.
- Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card that says he has epilepsy. Ask where to get these items.
Protect your child during an epileptic seizure:
- Do not panic.
- Note the start time of the seizure. Record how long it lasts.
- Gently guide your child to the floor or a soft surface. Cushion his head and remove sharp objects from the area around him.
- Place your child on his side to help prevent him from swallowing saliva or vomit.
- Loosen your child's clothing around the head and neck.
- Remove any objects from your child's mouth. Do not put anything in your child's mouth. This may prevent him from breathing.
- Perform CPR if your child stops breathing or you cannot feel his pulse.
- Let your child sleep or rest after his seizure. He may be confused for a short time after his seizure. Do not give him anything to eat or drink until he is fully awake.
Keep your child safe:
Your child may need to follow these safety measures:
- Your child must take showers instead of baths.
- Your child must wear a helmet when he rides a bike, scooter, or skateboard.
- Do not let your child sleep on the top of a bunk bed.
- Do not let your child climb trees or rocks.
- Do not let your child lock his bedroom or bathroom door.
- Do not let your child swim without an adult who is informed about his condition. Have your child use flotation devices such as a life jacket.
- Tell your child's teachers and baby-sitters that he has epilepsy. Give them written instructions to follow if he has another seizure.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.