If your child has been diagnosed with epilepsy, know that you’re not alone. Around 300,000 children under 14 have epilepsy in the United States. While for some children, seizures are either outgrown or controlled with medication after time, others struggle with this type of condition for their whole lives. While an epilepsy diagnosis can be frightening, there is only so much you can control, and one thing is how much information you have. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to medically complex children. The most important information you need to have is about seizures: what they are, how to recognize them, how to treat them, and when you need professional intervention.
What is a Seizure?
A seizure is essentially a sudden electrical current that irritates the brain, impacting the way a person acts for a short period of time. In the most basic terms, brain cells are designed to either excite or inhibit other brain cells from sending messages throughout the body. Most of the time, there is an even balance between exciting and inhibiting cells, but during a seizure, there is an imbalance in this activity. This creates surges of electrical activity that can cause seizures.
Seizures are not a disease in themselves; they are a symptom of epilepsy, which is a diagnosis given to people who have had more than two seizures. Seizures will look different in different people and are dependent on where they occur in the brain. A seizure in one part of the brain will impact a person differently than one in another part. Some seizures are completely debilitating, while others are barely noticeable.
Types of Seizures
There are a variety of types of seizures, but they can be categorized as either partial or generalized. Partial seizures are the simpler of the two — they occur when the seizure is limited to one hemisphere in the brain. Generalized seizures impact both hemispheres of the brain, and are divided into six categories: tonic, clonic, tonic-clonic, myoclonic, atonic, and absence.
Seizures can manifest in a variety of ways. They can impact motor function, the senses, the autonomic system, cognition, perception, or emotion. When your child is having a seizure, it is helpful to document how the spell is impacting them, and if they change over time.
Seizure First Aid
When your child is prone to seizures, it’s understandable if you feel scared, overwhelmed, or confused about the best way to handle them. Working with your doctor to fully understand their condition will do a lot to give you peace of mind. In addition, it’s wise to become CPR certified. This way, you feel empowered to help during this event.
Most of the time, seizures last about a minute or less and end without medical assistance. However, prolonged seizures may require emergency medication. A prolonged seizure is defined as an episode that lasts longer than 5 minutes, and they generally do not end without medical intervention. Therefore, you will want to learn about administering these medications during an episode.
There are several different medications that your child’s doctor may prescribe to intervene with a seizure, such as diazepam, midazolam, or lorazepam. These can be administered through the nose, cheek, abdomen, or rectum. The doctor will help you determine the best medication and administration for your child’s needs.
When 911 is Necessary
Every seizure does not require professional medical services, but there are some that will warrant a call to 911. You will need to call an ambulance when your child has a seizure if:
- You worry it may be life-threatening
- It is their first seizure and it lasts more than 5 minutes
- Your child doesn’t wake up after the seizure
- They aren’t responding to previously prescribed meds for seizures
- Mental status is declining quickly
- They become very weak
- They have suffered a recent head injury
The Importance of Individualized Care
Though this blog serves as a general guide to seizures, it’s important to keep in mind that every child’s seizure will be unique to them. If your child has a seizure, collect all of the information you can to bring to their doctor. Together, you will be able to determine the best course of action for treatment. Understanding everything you can about your child’s specific condition will help you to be the best advocate for their care you can be.
At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we understand that having a child with medical complexities comes with many considerations to make. One might be whether or not you need in-home health care for your child with epilepsy. If you are in need of pediatric home health care in Denver, you can trust us to provide an unparalleled level of care to your child. Contact us today to get started with our pediatric home care services.