Causes for Seizures in Children

It is not uncommon for children between the ages of six months and four years to have one or more seizures. It is not surprising when an adolescent may also have a seizure. A common question is, what causes seizures? Seizures occur sometimes when there is a disruption of the normal electrical impulse pattern of the brain, which is a brain disorder. However, in most cases, this is not the cause for seizures. Many children will get a seizure when they have a fever, an acute infection, such as tonsillitis, an inflammation of the middle ear, or gastroenteritis.

There are many types of seizures. The symptoms can be stiffness of the body, jerky arm or leg movements, or a rolling back of the eyes. Some children may just stare into space. Some, will just collapse and lose consciousness. It is good to know that in most cases, the seizures do not last long. Also, seizures do not leave any permanent damage to the child. After gaining consciousness, the child may be drowsy.

During a seizure, a parent should be aware that it is important to remove objects that can be harmful. A parent should also try to prevent an injury from a fall and prevent a blow to the head.

It is important for the child to have good air passage during this time. It can help by making sure that the chin should be as far from the neck as possible. This can be done by gently pulling up the chin. It is best to continue precaution for awhile. If the seizure has stopped, and there has been vomiting, make sure the mouth is clear. It is wise to refrain from giving medicine by mouth. Rectal aspirin suppository is recommended.

Trying to place objects in a child’s mouth is not a good practice. If the seizure has not stopped, it will be necessary to go to the doctor. Drugs will be given by injection to stop the seizures. When the seizure has stopped, the next step is for the doctor to perform a thorough examination to find out more about the cause of the seizure. A spinal tap may be done to find out if there is an infection of the brain or spinal cord.

Sometimes, hospitalization may be required for observation or treatment if a brain disorder is suspected. When a child has to go to the hospital, a brain wave test (electroencephalogram or EEG) will be given.

There has been some controversy as to whether or not a child should be treated with phenobarbital if there is a brain disorder. However, since phenobarbital does have side effects, it is felt that it is best not to take it. Many doctors feel that most children will not have another seizure due to an infection of the brain.

Source: Taking Care of Your Child by Robert H. Pantell,M.D., James Fries, M.D. and

Donald Vickery, M.D.



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