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Recurrent Seizures in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is a recurrent seizure?

A seizure means an area in your child's brain sends a burst of electrical activity. A seizure can cause jerky muscle movements, loss of consciousness, or confusion. Recurrent means your child has a seizure more than once. Recurrent seizures may occur if your child does not take antiseizure medicine as directed. Common triggers include certain medicines, a head injury, a tumor, a stroke, or exposure to toxins. In children younger than 6 years, a fever can sometimes trigger a seizure. This is called a febrile seizure.

How is a recurrent seizure treated?

Your child may need seizure medicine if he or she does not already take it. If your child currently takes seizure medicine, the dose or type of medicine may need be changed. A ketogenic diet may be used if your child's seizures cannot be controlled with medicine. The diet is monitored by a nutritionist. Surgery may be needed to remove a tumor or fix a problem in your child's brain.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage my child's seizures?

  • Talk to your child about the seizure. Your child may be frightened or confused after a seizure. Depending on your child's age, it might be helpful to explain the seizure. If your child has epilepsy, help your child understand how epilepsy will affect him or her. Help your child learn safety precautions to take. Ask your child about any auras he or she had before the seizure. Help him or her learn to recognize an aura and get to a safe place before the seizure starts.
  • Ask what safety precautions your child should take. Talk with your adolescent's healthcare provider about driving. Your adolescent may not be able to drive until he or she is seizure-free for a period of time. You will need to check the law where your adolescent lives. Also talk to your child's healthcare provider about swimming and bathing. Your child may drown or develop life-threatening heart or lung damage if a seizure happens in water.
  • Keep a journal of your child's seizure activity. Write down how often he or she has a seizure. Include what he or she was doing before the seizure, and how he or she acted during the seizure. This information may help healthcare providers make changes to his medicine or decide if he or she needs other treatments.
  • Tell your child's teachers and babysitters that he or she has seizures. Give them the following instructions to use if your child has another 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 the child's head and remove sharp objects from the area around him or her.
    • Place your child on his or her side to help prevent him or her from swallowing saliva or vomit.
    • Loosen the clothing around your child's head and neck.
    • Remove any objects from your child's mouth. Do not put anything in your child's mouth. This may prevent him or her from breathing.
    • Perform CPR if your child stops breathing or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
    • Let your child sleep or rest after the seizure. He or she may be confused for a short time after his seizure. Do not give your child anything to eat or drink until he or she is fully awake.

What can I do to keep my child safe?

Your child may need to follow these safety measures for at least 12 months after a seizure:

  • Your child must take showers instead of baths.
  • Your child must wear a helmet when he or she 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 the seizure.

What can I do to help my child prevent a seizure?

  • Have your child take antiseizure medicine every day at the same time. This will also help prevent medicine side effects. Set an alarm to help remind you and your child.
  • Help your child identify seizure triggers. Many things can trigger a seizure. Examples include flashing lights or spending long periods of time on the computer. Identify triggers so that you can help keep your child away from them.
  • Help your child manage stress. Stress can trigger a seizure. Exercise can help your child reduce stress. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about exercise that is safe for your child. Illness can be a form of stress. Offer your child a variety of healthy foods and plenty of liquids during an illness.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule. A lack of sleep can trigger a seizure. Try to have your child go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Keep your child's bedroom quiet and dark. Talk to your child's healthcare provider if he or she is having trouble sleeping.

What do I need to know about stopping my child's medicine?

Your child's healthcare provider can help you understand and make decisions about antiseizure medicines. Do not stop giving your child the medicine until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. Your child will need to have no seizures for a period of time, such as 18 to 24 months. Then you and the provider can decide if your child should continue taking the medicine. The provider will lower your child's dose over a certain period of time. Seizures might happen again while your child stops taking the medicine, or after he or she stops. Rarely, these seizures no longer respond to medicines. Tests such as an EEG may be useful in helping you and your child's provider make medicine decisions.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • Your child's seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • Your child has a second seizure within 24 hours of the first.
  • Your child stops breathing, turns blue, or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
  • Your child cannot be woken after his seizure.
  • Your child has more than 1 seizure before he or she is fully awake or aware.
  • Your child has a seizure in water, such as a swimming pool or bath tub.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child does not act normally after a seizure.
  • Your child is very weak and tired, has a stiff neck, or cannot stop vomiting.
  • Your child is injured during a seizure.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

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