Affinity Health Discusses Epilepsy in Children this International Epilepsy Day
Affinity Health, leading providers of affordable medical insurance, examine symptoms of epilepsy in children in honour of International Epilepsy Day.
What do these famous faces – Theodore Roosevelt, Neil Young, Elton John, Prince, and Susan Boyle – all have in common? They suffered epilepsy as children.
“In children, epilepsy is fairly common. The good news is that many children with epilepsy will outgrow it before they reach adolescence. If they don’t, medications will usually assure a happy and healthy life,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
International Epilepsy Day is an annual event that raises epilepsy awareness in more than 130 countries. Every year on the second Monday in February, people get together to recognise and highlight the issues that epilepsy patients, their families, and caregivers confront.
What is the Definition of Epilepsy in Children?
Why do Children have Seizures?
Nerve cells in the brain communicate with one another through electrical activity. A seizure happens when aberrant electrical signals from one or more areas of the brain disrupt normal brain signals. Epilepsy is diagnosed when a child has two or more seizures without a known cause.
Types of Epileptic Seizures
Epileptic seizures are divided into two types: focal (partial) seizures and generalised seizures.
A focal seizures affect only one side of the brain. Before a focal seizure, a child may experience an “aura” that signals a seizure is coming. Auras can include changes in hearing, vision, or smell, or unusual feelings, such as fear or euphoria.
A focal seizure typically affects a specific muscle group, such as in the fingers or legs, and doesn’t usually involve a loss of consciousness. A child suffering from a focal seizure may appear “frozen” and unable to respond, although they can generally hear and understand what is going on around them.
Generalised seizures involve both sides of the brain and frequently result in a loss of consciousness. After a seizure, children are usually lethargic and exhausted. Generalised seizures are more common in children aged between four and 14 and usually last less than 10 seconds.
If your child is having a seizure, it’s essential to stay calm. Remove harmful objects and guide your child away from danger. Talk quietly and stay with your child until they have recovered. For more on what to do in the event of an epilepsy seizure, click here.
Learn More: What to Know About Seizures in Babies
What Causes and Triggers Epilepsy in Children?
In many children (about 65%), epilepsy has no identifiable cause. Potential causes or contributing factors may include:
- Brain tumour or cysts
- Brain damage from sickness or accident
- Autism and other developmental issues
- Genetics, as some types of epilepsy run in families
- Childhood fevers
- Infectious diseases, including meningitis
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
- Oxygen deficiency before or during birth
- Trauma to the head
Specific triggers are known to increase the risk of having seizures. A few of the most reported triggers in children are lack of sleep, high fever or illness, stress, bright or flashing lights, stimulants such as caffeine, or skipping meals. Identifying triggers isn’t always easy because a single incident doesn’t always mean something is a trigger. It’s often a combination of factors that trigger a seizure in children.
How is Epilepsy in Children Diagnosed and Treated?
A child with epilepsy will need a complete medical exam and ongoing support from your chosen healthcare provider. Treatment aims to control, halt, or minimise the frequency of seizures. The most common kind of treatment is medication. Medicines are selected depending on the type of seizure, your child’s age, potential adverse effects, cost, and simplicity of administration.
Learn More: Absence Seizures – Do You Get Them?
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.