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Health Information For Parents
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. A seizure usually affects how a person looks or acts for a short time. Someone having a seizure might collapse, shake uncontrollably, or even just stare into space. All of these are brief disturbances in brain function, often with a loss of or change in consciousness.
Seizures can be frightening, but most last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are not life-threatening. A person who has had two or more seizures may be diagnosed with epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder.
Usually, electrical activity in the brain involves neurons in different areas sending signals at different times. During a seizure, many neurons fire all at once. This abnormal electrical activity can cause different symptoms depending on the part of the brain involved, including unusual sensations, uncontrollable muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.
Some seizures may be due to another medical problem, such as a fever, an infection, a head injury, accidental poisoning, or drug overdose. They also can be caused by a brain tumor or other health problem affecting the brain. And anything that results in a sudden lack of oxygen or reduced blood flow to the brain can cause a seizure. In some cases, a seizure’s cause is never found.
Febrile seizures can happen in children younger than 6 years old. While they can be scary to watch, these seizures are usually brief and rarely cause any serious or long-term problems, unless the fever is related to a serious infection, such as meningitis.
Syncope (SIN-ko-pee), or fainting, is not uncommon in older kids and teens. When it happens, kids might have a brief seizure or seizure-like spell. They might stiffen or even twitch or convulse a few times. Fortunately, fainting rarely is a sign of epilepsy. Most kids recover very quickly (seconds to minutes) and don’t need specialized treatment.
First, make sure that your child is in a safe place where he or she can’t get hurt. Place your child on the ground or floor in a safe area, preferably on his or her right side. Also:
Once the seizure seems to have ended, gently comfort and protect your child. It’s best for kids to remain lying down until they have recovered fully and want to move around.
Call 911 immediately if your child:
If your child has previously had seizures, call 911 if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or is for some reason very alarming to you and you’re worried for your child’s safety.
If your child is breathing normally and the seizure lasts just a few minutes, you can wait until it lets up to call your doctor.
After a seizure, kids are often tired or confused and may fall into a deep sleep (called the postictal period). You do not need to try to wake your child as long as he or she is breathing comfortably. Don’t try to give food or drink until your child is awake and alert.
For a child who has febrile seizures, the doctor may suggest giving fever-reducing medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease discomfort.
After a seizure — particularly if it is a first or unexplained seizure — call your doctor or emergency medical services for instructions. Your child probably will need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
You might hear a seizure called a convulsion, fit, or spell.
It comes from a Greek word meaning “to hold or seize,” and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.
A tonic-clonic seizure (also called a grand mal seizure) is a sudden attack that brings on intense muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. It is caused by abnormal brain activity and affects the entire body.
An absence seizure (also called a petit mal seizure) is type of epileptic seizure that causes a person to briefly lose consciousness and stare ahead without moving, appearing “absent.”
Kids who have these spells hold their breath until they pass out. Although upsetting to watch, the spells are not harmful and do not pose any serious, long-term health risks.
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.
Fainting is pretty common in teens. The good news is that most of the time it’s not a sign of something serious.
Although seizures can be frightening, usually they last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life-threatening.
Fainting is a loss of consciousness that can be caused by many things. Here’s what to do if your child faints or is about to faint.
Febrile seizures are convulsions that happen in some children with fevers. They usually stop on their own after a few minutes and don’t cause any other health problems.
A well-stocked first-aid kit, kept in easy reach, is a necessity in every home. Learn where you should keep a kit and what to put in it.
Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, theyÂ usually stop on their own and don’t cause any other health problems.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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