Epilepsy in children: symptoms, causes and what to do

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by sudden seizures with loss of consciousness and violent convulsive movements of the muscles: what to do if children are affected.

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Epilepsy in children. Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by sudden fits with loss of consciousness and violent convulsive movements of the muscles, the so-called "Seizures". These are recurring and unexpected manifestations. It is no coincidence that the Greek meaning of the word epilepsy is "to take by surprise": the crises are not predictable, so one is struck without warning.

La world epilepsy day which is celebrated on 13 February each year is a good opportunity to dispel all those prejudices and discrimination that still accompany those suffering from these crises. But it is good to know that, especially when it comes to a diagnosis of epilepsy in childhood, it does not necessarily mean a sentence to a life of limitations.


In children, in fact, epilepsy is a passenger disturbance (just think that epilepsy is predominantly pediatric: two thirds of epilepsies in fact begin before pubertal development), many recover spontaneously at the onset of puberty and others manage to keep the disease under control with drugs.


Epilepsy in children: symptoms

The main signal are undoubtedly periodic seizures, crisis convulsive or absence, in which the child appears for a few seconds away from the environment in which it is located. The seizures are frequent and repeated, so some sporadic seizures should not cause alarms, since it does not mean epilepsy.

Depending on how large the outbreak is and its location within the brain, they have different manifestations of epilepsy: if the electrical discharges are generalized and affect the whole brain, you will have the classic crises, in which you lose consciousness, fall to the ground and stiffen. But if, for example, the area of ​​the brain that controls the movements of the right hand is involved, the crisis will be characterized by abnormal and involuntary movements of this hand; if, on the other hand, the neurons that control eye movements are involved, there may be crises with lateral deviation of the eyes.

Then there is one benign form of seizures so it is as if for about ten seconds the affected person gets distracted and pulls himself out of the context in which he finds himself. It is a form that tends to heal with puberty. The more severe forms, on the other hand, those that occur with intense and frequent crises, are mostly disabling and can even be associated with a delay in the child's cognitive and motor development (also thanks to drugs), because they decrease the ability to concentrate and attention.

Epilepsy in children: the causes

Seizures are usually an expression of abnormalities in the electrical activity of neurons, which communicate with each other through electrical discharges. However, it can happen in some cases that a more or less large group of neurons discharges abnormally and excessively, thus giving rise to the epileptic focus which in turn causes the crisis.

Most of the cases are due to genetic predispositions, in many others the responsibility lies with more or less extensive brain lesions (due to congenital brain malformations, child suffering during birth, head trauma, tumors or cardiovascular disease).

Epilepsy in children: what to do in case of a crisis

In the event of a seizure, first of all it is necessary keep calm and know what to do and what not to do.

- If, for example, the child has fallen to the ground due to convulsions, you must make sure that the head does not hit repeatedly the floor or any obstacles, so it would be good to put a pillow under your head and turn it on your side to let the saliva out.

- Do not try to contain the baby or open his mouth: the contraction of the jaw in these cases is very strong, so it would be a danger for oneself and for the child.

- Do not try to "resuscitate" the baby: According to doctors, both assisted breathing and cardiac massages are inappropriate.

- In the event that an epileptic seizure occurs without convulsions, it is necessary avoid inappropriate interventions and not to frighten the child further, but to soothe and comfort him.

For the rest, it just takes a lot of calm and a lot of patience.

Germana Carillo

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