The epilepsy is an intermittent disorder of the nervous system, affecting 1% of children and characterized by seizures or convulsions. Most of the children affected by this disease can lead a 'normal and healthy' life. Although its name may impress many parents, most childhood epilepsies progress well and are due to treatment.
Is a neurological disease in which the action of electrical discharges affects children's brain neurons, triggering the so-called epileptic seizures. These attacks can be due to hereditary factors, infectious diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis, problems in pregnancy or head trauma.
The brain is made up of cells called neurons, which communicate with each other using electrical impulses. These impulses cause us to carry out voluntary movements or receive sensations from the world around us.
The epileptic seizures they are produced by disorganized discharges of electrical impulses in groups of neurons. If the alteration of neurons is located in one place in the brain, it usually leads to focal seizures.
When there is a general excitability of the brain as a whole, it gives rise to generalized seizures, in which an obvious abnormality in the brain is not usually found and possibly due to an abnormality in the regulation of the communication of brain cells, perhaps hereditary, genetic in origin.
It is important to know that many of the seemingly critical episodes are not epilepsies. Febrile seizures or sobbing spasms do not enter into epilepsy. A child has epilepsy when:
- You have two or more seizures with no clear triggers (fever, for example).
- Lose consciousness, presents brief absences or momentary suspensions of conscious activity manifested repeatedly.
- Has violent muscle contractions, with jerks of one or more muscle groups.
- Has oral alterations, nausea or excessive sweating, accompanied by abnormal movements.
In order to diagnose an epileptic seizure correctly, it is essential, as explained in the report 'Epilepsy in childhood and adolescence' carried out by P. Tirado Requero, M. Alba Jiménez, from the Children's Neurology Service of the Hospital Universitario La Paz (Madrid ), 'to know which are the different clinical manifestations with which a crisis may occur and thus be able to make an adequate differential diagnosis with other clinical pictures of different prognostic value'.
Epilepsy can be treated and new drugs improve the quality of life of those affected by the disease. Fortunately, most children with it can be controlled with antiepileptic medication.
Exceptionally, seizures resistant to multiple treatments occur and sometimes require different approaches such as surgery, a type of diet that the doctor will recommend or the implantation of a pacemaker in the vagus nerve. Factors known to trigger an attack in a particular child, such as television, video games, or disco lights, should be avoided.
Some cases of childhood epilepsy resolve on their own over time, while most need treatment. For confirm a diagnosis of epilepsy You will need an EEG, a scan, and an MRI.
Medicines can control seizures in most children. They are usually marketed in the form of tablets, syrup, or capsules. Your child may have an upset stomach for the first few days or weeks after starting treatment. Any discomfort that the child feels during this period should be reported to the doctor.
There are many factors that can cause seizures In children. In 7 out of 10 cases no cause can be identified, in the rest it can be discovered:
- Brain development problems during pregnancy.
- Lack of oxygen during or after childbirth.
- Head injuries.
- Brain tumors (rare in young children).
- A very prolonged febrile seizure.
- Encephalitis or meningitis.
- Cases of epilepsy in relatives.
Apart from that, in the onset of a childhood epilepsy seizure they can influence weather changes, lunar cycle changes, lack of sleep and alterations in night rest, all of which increase the chances of suffering a crisis in children already predisposed to this neurological disease.
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