Epilepsy is a prevalent condition impacting the central nervous system. While anyone can be affected, children and the elderly are more susceptible. Today, about 0.5–1% of the global population struggles with epilepsy, which can have profound implications for childhood development.

Recognising the Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy results from irregularities in the brain's electrical impulses, leading to seizures. Often, children in good health with no apparent medical concerns develop epilepsy due to various underlying brain abnormalities. However, experiencing a seizure doesn't necessarily indicate epilepsy.

Differential Diagnosis: Types of Seizures and Their Characteristics

  1. Temporary Seizures: Caused by momentary disruptions in the brain's electrical activity. They last for seconds or minutes and are treatable if their cause, such as low glucose or a brain tumour, is addressed.
  2. Epileptic Seizures: Due to a permanent electrical disturbance, leading to recurrent, unstimulated seizures.
  3. Convulsions: Characterised by rapid muscle contractions and relaxations. While epileptic seizures can cause convulsions, the two aren't always linked.

Spotting the Symptoms of Epilepsy

Epilepsy symptoms vary based on the affected brain region. Parents should be vigilant, especially if their child's learning or behaviour suddenly deteriorates or if they display odd behaviours like unexplained laughter or absent-mindedness.

  • Absence Seizures: Typically seen in children aged 5-10, these seizures involve an unfocused look or unresponsiveness.
  • Full Body Seizures: Characterised by uncontrollable spasms and amnesia of the episode.

Diagnosing Childhood Epilepsy

Identifying the exact cause is crucial for effective treatment. Medical professionals utilise:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): Pinpoints the brain region causing seizures and identifies seizure types.
  • CT and MRI Scans: Offer detailed images of potential triggers.

Childhood Epilepsy Treatments

Medication remains the primary treatment to prevent seizures, often prescribed for over two years. While many epilepsy sufferers can achieve a cure, some only manage to limit their seizure occurrences. Currently, various medications control seizures effectively. For those unresponsive to medication:

  • Ketogenic Diet: Reduces seizure frequency.
  • Surgery: is offered as an alternative treatment to pinpointing and operating on the exact seizure source.

Preventing Complications and Caring for Children with Epilepsy

Timely treatment can minimise brain injury risks. Parents should:

  • Ensure consistent medication intake.
  • Prioritise child safety during activities like swimming or cycling.
  • Follow the first aid protocol during seizures, including proper positioning and observing seizure duration.