What is Epilepsy?
Electrical activity is happening in our brain all the time, as the cells in the brain send messages to each other. A seizure happens when there is a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. This causes a temporary disruption to the way the brain normally works.
The result is an epileptic seizure. When a child has epilepsy, it means they have a tendency to have seizures. Anyone can have a one-off seizure, but this doesn’t always mean they have epilepsy.
Epilepsy in children is usually only diagnosed if someone has had more than one seizure. Epilepsy can start at any age and there are many different types. Some types of epilepsy last for a limited time and the person eventually stops having seizures. But for many people epilepsy is a lifelong condition.
What causes Epilepsy in Children?
Sometimes, doctors can find a clear cause for a child epilepsy. Possible causes of epilepsy include:
A brain infection, such as meningitis
Severe head injury
Problems during birth which caused the baby to get less oxygen
But in over half of all children with epilepsy, doctors don’t know what caused it. Some may have a family history of epilepsy, suggesting that they may have inherited it.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
The main way doctors diagnose epilepsy is by taking a detailed description of the seizures. They may also arrange for some tests to help give them more information about the possible type and cause of the epilepsy.This can also help rule out any other conditions that could be causing seizures. These tests can include blood tests, an EEG (recording of the brainwaves) and brain scans. But there isn’t a single test that can prove if someone does or does not have epilepsy.
How is epilepsy treated?
The main treatment for epilepsy is epilepsy medicines. These are sometimes called anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs. The medicine doesn’t cure epilepsy, but helps to stop or reduce the number of seizures.
If epilepsy medicine doesn’t work well for someone, their doctor might suggest other types of treatment. Other types of treatment include brain surgery, another type of surgery called vagus nerve stimulation, and a special diet called the ketogenic diet which is sometimes used for children.