Seizures in Children: Diagnosis, Causes, Signs & Treatments

Watching your child experience the symptoms of a seizure can be one of the scariest things a parent can go through. However, seizures can be quite common at any age, and approximately 10% of the population will experience at least one seizure in their lifetime. Even infants and young children can experience seizures. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about childhood seizures in this quick guide:

Signs of Seizures in Children

The symptoms of seizures can vary widely depending on what part of the brain is being affected. Seizures can occur at any time of the day, and your child may be awake or asleep.

Signs of seizures in kids include:

  • Convulsions
  • Tremors or muscle spasms
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Irregular breathing
  • Blue lips or skin
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Staring into space
  • Incoherent speech
  • Atypical heart rate
  • Visual disturbances
  • Digestive upset
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Dizziness
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Sudden falls
  • Memory gaps
  • Unusual clumsiness
  • Dazed behavior
  • Uncontrollable crying or laughing
  • Rapid blinking
  • Gagging
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

There are many different types of seizures, each with its own unique presentation. This is why testing is often required to make a diagnosis. A medical professional can help you determine whether or not an event your child experienced was, in fact, a seizure.

Causes of Seizures in Children

A seizure is caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain. If your child experiences a seizure, it may be a one-time event or a sign of an underlying medical condition like epilepsy or heart issues. Seizures can also have external causes that trigger them, including fever, illness, brain injury, hypoglycemia, and withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

Seizures that occur in the absence of these triggers are known as unprovoked seizures and may be an indicator of epilepsy, a neurological disorder that results in multiple unprovoked seizures.

Diagnosis of Seizures in Children

If a seizure is suspected, your child’s doctor may order an imaging test like an MRI or CT scan in addition to a test that measures electrical activity in the brain like an EEG. Although they can seem frightening to a child, all of these tests are painless, safe procedures with minimal risks.

A neurological exam may also take place to assess any signs of brain impairment. This exam may evaluate several parts of neurological function, including memory, strength, sensation, reflexes, and coordination.

Treatment of Seizures in Children

While childhood seizures can be quite scary, they can be managed with medication in many cases. These medications are preventative and cannot stop a seizure that has already begun.

In some cases, other treatments may be necessary depending on the underlying cause. Such treatments may include special diets (such as a ketogenic diet), neurostimulation, and surgery.

Children who are especially prone to seizures should carry a medical alert card or wear medical alert jewelry to help inform potential caregivers and medical professionals of their condition.

If you suspect your child may be experiencing a seizure, place them safely on their side to help ensure that their airway remains clear and open. Never try to restrain a person who is having a seizure and do not place anything in their mouth. This could result in injury.

Take care to ensure that your child is properly supervised both during and after a seizure, watching for signs that may require further medical attention, such as unresponsiveness, trouble breathing, a change in color, or a seizure lasting more than five minutes. Choking and other secondary injuries can also be common during a seizure and may require treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns about childhood seizures, give us a call today to schedule a visit with one of our friendly pediatricians in Littleton.