Week by Week

If Your Child Has Seizures

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le

What are seizures?

A seizure occurs when a large number of nerve cells in the brain send out an electrical impulse at the same time. This surge of electricity results in muscle twitching, unconsciousness, abnormal behavior, and many other symptoms.

How to diagnose seizures in children?

Diagnosing seizures in children proves to be a challenging task. Since seizures come and leave in a rush, it is probably all over when you and your child arrive at a hospital. Your doctor will try to rule out other conditions first. For example, nonepileptic seizures may look exactly like seizures while in fact, they are just the result of low blood sugar levels, low blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, or emotional stress. To give an accurate diagnosis, your doctor needs to know exactly what your child’s seizures look like. So, you should try your best to describe what happens during a seizure. Or, even better, you may record a video of your child when a seizure happens. Besides, your doctor will do a physical exam and order some blood tests and, in some cases, a brain scan such as an MRI to look for signs of epilepsy.

How do seizures affect children?

Although seizures are not painful, they are definitely frightening for the child and people around. However, the major cause for concern is the child’s loss of control over their body. They may end up doing something terrible and upsetting. Even worse, they may hurt themselves if they fall and hit the ground or other objects.

There is no hard evidence on how seizures affect a brain in the long run. It’s once believed that seizures cause no harm to the brain. Nevertheless, scientists have begun to suspect that seizures may affect the brain in a way that science is yet able to figure out.

When seizures are dangerous

Most types of seizures are not dangerous, except for status epilepticus. People with status epilepticus suffer from a prolonged seizure or one seizure after another continuously without a chance to regain their consciousness. Status epilepticus can be life-threatening. Seek medical help immediately if you notice a seizure that lasts for more than 5 minutes in your child.

Children with epilepsy are prone to a condition called Sudden Unexplained Death. The cause of this condition still remains unexplained. Sudden Unexplained Death rarely happens. Controlling seizures, especially ones that occur during sleep, may help reduce your child’s risk of Sudden Unexplained Death.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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