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Picha

Epilepsy in kids can be confounding

Dear Readers,

IT is common knowledge that epilepsy (kifafa), is a frightening and disorienting disorder of the nervous system although it rarely kills on its own. However, victims of epilepsy drown in places like pools, lakes, rivers or even the ocean when a major seizure shuts down the brain.

The victim normally sinks and gulps down water helplessly to death. Victims of epilepsy are also discouraged from sitting or standing close to open fires or even heaters or hot water. Once a seizure strikes the victim, naturally, falls in the fire, heater or hot water.

Parents and guardians should make sure young epilepsy victims do not sit or stand too close to open fires. Children and adults should also be discouraged from climbing tall trees or other dangerous heights such as high ladders or even high rise buildings.

Victims of epilepsy often fall off the canopies of trees or other heights and end up with broken bones or dead. Adult victims of epilepsy should be prevented from driving motor vehicles, bikes or handling dangerous rotating machinery such as chain saws and others.

Once the seizure hits its victim, he is likely to drop right in the path of the rotating blades, machinery wheels or belts. Victims can be saved if help arrives in the nick of time. However, those who fall from dangerous heights or get involved in vehicle accidents may not be saved.

Beware; these are not the only highly dangerous trouble spots for victims of epilepsy. There are many others. Seizures often hit their victims in crowded places such as public rallies, meetings, offices, schools, open markets or even during celebrations such as weddings.

Seizures can also attack their victims in crowded streets, sometimes in the middle of roads much to the mercy of speeding motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles. Parents and caregivers should make sure young epilepsy victims do not get into harm’s way.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide. The disorder is big let-down in academic or even economic pursuits.

The prevalence of active epilepsy is significantly higher in developing than in developed countries, especially in rural areas. Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes a child or adult to have seizures.

It is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. It affects children and adults of all races and ethnic backgrounds. The brain consists of nerve cells that communicate with each other through electrical activity.

A seizure occurs when one or more parts of the brain have a burst of abnormal electrical signals that interrupt normal brain signals. Anything that interrupts the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain can cause a seizure.

This includes a high fever, high or low blood sugar, alcohol or drug withdrawal or a brain concussion. But when a child has two or more seizures with no known cause, this is diagnosed as epilepsy. There are different types of seizures.

The type of seizure depends on which part and how much of the brain is affected and what happens during the seizure. The two main categories of epileptic seizures are focal (partial) seizure and generalized seizure.

Focal seizures take place when abnormal electrical brain function occurs in one or more areas of one side of the brain. Before a focal seizure, your child may have an aura or signs that a seizure is about to occur.

This is more common with a complex focal seizure.

The most common aura involves feelings, such as fear or euphoria. Or your child may have visual changes, hearing abnormalities, or changes in sense of smell. The simple focal seizure’s symptoms depend on which area of the brain is affected.

If the abnormal electrical brain function is in the part of the brain involved with vision (occipital lobe), your child’s sight may be altered. More often, muscles are affected. The seizure activity is limited to an isolated muscle group.

For example, it may only include the fingers or larger muscles in the arms and legs. Your child may also have sweating, nausea or become pale. Your child won’t lose consciousness in this type of seizure.

The complex focal seizure often occurs in the area of the brain that controls emotion and memory function (temporal lobe). Your child will likely lose consciousness.

This may not mean he or she will pass out.

Your child may just stop being aware of what’s going on around him or her. Your child may look awake, but have a variety of unusual behaviors. These may range from gagging, lip smacking and running, screaming, crying, or laughing.

Your child may be tired or sleepy after the seizure. This is called the postictal period. A generalized seizure occurs in both sides of the brain. Your child will lose consciousness and be tired after the seizure (postictal state). The types of generalized seizures include: Absence seizure. This is also called petit mal seizure.

This seizure causes a brief changed state of consciousness and staring. Your child will likely maintain posture. His or her mouth or face may twitch or eyes may blink rapidly. The seizure usually lasts no longer than 30 seconds. When the seizure is over, your child may not recall what just occurred.

He or she may go on with activities as though nothing happened. These seizures may occur several times a day.

This type of seizure is sometimes mistaken for a learning or behavioral problem. Absence seizures almost always start between the age four and 12. The atonic seizure is also called a drop attack.

With an atonic seizure, your child has a sudden loss of muscle tone and may fall from a standing position or suddenly drop his or her head. During the seizure, your child will be limp and unresponsive. The generalized tonic-clonic seizure is also called grand mal seizure.

The classic form of this kind of seizure has five distinct phases. Your child’s body, arms, and legs will flex (contract), extend (straighten out), and tremor (shake). This is followed by contraction and relaxation of the muscles (clonic period) and the postictal period.

During the postictal period, your child may be sleepy. He or she may have problems with vision or speech, and may have a bad headache, fatigue, or body aches. Not all of these phases occur in everyone with this type of seizure.

Myoclonic seizure is a type of seizure causes quick movements or sudden jerking of a group of muscles. These seizures tend to occur in clusters. This means that they may occur several times a day, or for several days in a row. A seizure can be caused by many things. These can include: An imbalance of nerve-signaling brain chemicals (neurotransmitters); a brain tumor; stroke; brain damage from illness or injury.

So, a seizure may be caused by a combination of these. In most cases, the cause of a seizure can’t be found. During the seizure, your child’s lips may become tinted blue and his or her breathing may not be normal. After the seizure, your child may be sleepy or confused.

Children who have certain brain conditions, such as tuberous sclerosis, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and neurofibromatosis may be more likely to have seizures. The underlying brain disturbance may be giving rise to the seizures or make the child more likely to have recurring seizures.

Lifestyle, habits or certain behaviors seem to lead to seizures for some people with epilepsy. Not getting enough sleep and drug or alcohol abuse are just two examples. Some girls find that their seizures become more frequent when they go through puberty.

Others experience this disorder at certain points in their menstrual cycle. Some people find that certain foods cause them to have seizures. While there is little evidence of such connections, it is best to avoid any foods that seem to increase your child’s chances of having a seizure.

The symptoms of a seizure may be like those of other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis. The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history.

You’ll be asked about other factors that may have caused your child’s seizure, such as: recent fever or infection; head injury; congenital health conditions; preterm birth or recent medicines. The goal of treatment is to control, stop, or reduce how often seizures occur. Treatment is most often done with medicine. Many types of medicines used to treat seizures and epilepsy.

Your child’s healthcare provider will need to identify the type of seizure your child is having.

Medicines are selected based on the type of seizure, age of the child, side effects, cost, and ease of use. Medicines used at home are usually taken by mouth as capsules, tablets, sprinkles, or syrup. Some medicines can be given into the rectum or in the nose.

If your child is in the hospital with seizures, medicine may be given by injection or intravenously by vein (IV). It is important to give your child medicine on time and as prescribed. The dose may need to be adjusted for the best seizure control.

All medicines can have side effects. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about possible side effects. If your child has side effects, talk to the healthcare provider. Do not stop giving medicine to your child. This can cause more or worse seizures.

While your child is taking medicine, he or she may need tests to see how well the medicine is working. Your child may need blood tests often to check the level of medicine in his or her body. Based on this level, the healthcare provider may change the dose of medicine.

Your child may also have blood tests to check the effects of the medicine on his or her other organs. Your child’s urine may be tested to see how his or her body is reacting to the medicine. An EEG is a procedure that records the brain’s electrical activity.

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Author: SOSTHENES PAULO MWITA

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