Activity in the brain is controlled by electrical impulses. If these electrical signals are not sent in the right order or at the proper rate, seizures can occur. Sometimes seizures can be caused by a high fever, a head injury or poisoning, but most times seizures occur without a specific cause.
Seizures can cause sudden, uncontrolled movements. The movements may involve the whole body or only certain parts, such as the face, arms or legs. The eyes may move rapidly from side to side, roll to one side or roll back in the head. It may be hard to see the colored part of the eye. During a seizure, your child may have irregular breathing. His or her lips may turn blue.
Your child might urinate or have a bowel movement during the seizure. When the seizure is over, your child may want to go to sleep.
Some seizures are milder and may only cause a child to stare, be confused or unresponsive for a short time.
It is very important to protect your child from injury while he is having a seizure. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Stay with your child until the seizure stops. Even though you may feel frightened, try to stay calm.
2. Use a clock or watch to time the seizure. (It may be hard to remember to do this at the time, but because we all have a different sense of time, it is the only sure way to know exactly how long the seizure lasted.)
|Picture 1 Turn your child's head to the side and point the face downward.|
3. If your child is sitting or standing, gently ease him to the floor.
4. If possible, place your child on his side. Turn his head to the side with his face downward so that secretions can drain out of the mouth to prevent choking (Picture 1). Place something soft under his head.
5. Loosen tight clothing.
6. If your child wears glasses, remove them.
7. Move the tables, chairs or other hard objects away so that he cannot hurt himself.
(If objects cannot be moved, gently slide your child away from them.)
There are many different kinds of seizures. The doctor must know which kind your child has before the right medicine can be prescribed. It may be hard to tell certain kinds of seizures from others. The doctor may not see the seizure, so he or she must rely on your description and results of medical tests to decide which medicine to use. The better you can describe the seizure, the easier (and perhaps sooner) the doctor can start bringing the seizures under control (Picture 2). It is possible for a child to have more than one type of seizure. If you recognize more than one kind, be sure to describe each one separately on the Seizure Record (page 5).
These questions will help you know what to watch for:
|Picture 2 Keep a record of what happens before, during, and after a seizure.|
Let your child rest after he is cleaned up (he may have soiled his pants or vomited). He may be very tired and sleep for several hours. He may complain of a mild headache. Within 30 minutes you should be able to get some response from your child, such as opening his eyes, pushing you away, or beginning to arouse. If you cannot get any response within 30 minutes after the seizure, get emergency help.
The Seizure Record on page 5 will help you keep an accurate record of the details of your child's seizures when they occur. This record will be especially helpful during the first several visits to the doctor when a treatment plan is being developed. Later on, keeping a detailed record may not be advised because it may call more attention to your child's condition than necessary. Ask your child's doctor when you should stop keeping the record. In addition, video recording an event on your phone or camera can be helpful to show your doctor.
Have someone call 911 for emergency help if any of these things happen:
To avoid injury if your child has another seizure, he should use the following precautions: avoid activities involving climbing, do not sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed, do not swim unsupervised, shower rather than take a tub bath and wear a helmet when bike riding, skateboarding or rollerblading.
|Date||Time of Day||How Long Seizure Lasted||Description of Seizure and Other Information to be Discussed with the Doctor|
Seizure Care (PDF)
HH-I-61 4/79, Revised 11/12 Copyright 1979-2012, Nationwide Children's Hospital