Childhood Epilepsy: What to Do in the Event of a Seizure and How to Prevent Injury

Friday, November 15, 2013 12:49 PM comments (0)

epilepsy smallCurrently about 325,000 American children under the age of 15 have epilepsy, with 200,000 new cases being diagnosed each year, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of America.  Epilepsy is a disorder involving repeated seizures, or episodes of disturbed brain function associated with changes in attention and/or behavior. Although some children will outgrow the disorder or can have it easily managed through medication, others may be more severely impacted throughout their lives.

Kent Kelley, MD, Pediatric Neurology, tells parents, caregivers and teachers what they should know in the event of a seizure as well as some steps they can take to prevent harm from seizures before they happen:

  • Always make sure your child is carrying or wearing some form of medical identification, if appropriate. Teachers and caregivers should be made aware of your child’s disorder and how to act should a seizure occur.
  • Monitor your child’s surroundings for potential hazards. Avoid nearby objects that could cause harm if your child were to have a seizure, such as a hot stove or lawn mower.
  • Even if your child has not experienced a seizure for some time, don’t adjust the dosage of medication without the advice and supervision of your child’s physician. In addition, before giving your child any other medication, check to make sure there will not be a negative reaction with his or her seizure medication. If you have questions, call your physician or pharmacist.
  • In the event of a seizure:
  1. Make sure that clothing isn’t restricting the neck and causing difficulty breathing.
  2. Do not try to hold the child down or restrain him or her.
  3. Remove any objects that could cause harm from around the child.
  4. After the seizure has subsided, position the child on his or her side to help keep the airway clear.
  5. Call 911 if the seizure lasts for longer than five minutes, the child cannot be awakened, or if another seizure begins shortly following the first. Depending on the type of seizure, different actions may need to be taken.



Important Seizure Tips: Helping Out and Staying Safe

Tuesday, May 01, 2012 12:13 PM comments (1)

SeizuresWhat do you do if you are around someone having a seizure? If you’ve had a seizure, what lifestyle changes do you need to make to reduce your risk of further injury? These are important questions to consider when dealing with epilepsy.

Jaishree Narayanan, MD, Neurologist at NorthShore, provides her insight on ways to assist someone having a seizure and what you should do after suffering from a seizure:

Seizure Assistance
Aside from never putting anything into a person’s mouth suffering from a seizure or forcibly holding them down, the following guidelines (TRUST) should be followed:   

  • Turn the person onto his or her side (the left side is best).
  • Remove all harmful objects from the episode area.
  • Use something soft (such as a pillow, blanket or sweatshirt) under the person’s head.
  • Stay calm.
  • Time the seizure. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes or multiple seizures are observed, call 911 immediately.

After a Seizure: Precautions to Consider
After suffering from a seizure it is important to limit your risk for injury if another episode should occur. This can be done by following the precautions below:

  • Do not drive for a period of 3-6 months after a seizure.
  • Do not take unsupervised baths.
  • Do not go swimming without someone by your side with close supervision. 
  • Do not climb up roof tops, ladders or onto other elevated areas.
  • Do not work with live electrical wires or operate machinery. 
  • Do not engage in any activities that would put you or people around you in danger due to your seizures.

Were the above tips helpful? Would you feel comfortable knowing what to do now if someone around you was suffering from a seizure?

Have questions about seizures and epilepsy? Join Sofia Dobrin, MD for an online chat on Thursday, May 3 from 12-1p.m. Submit your early questions.


Epilepsy – Know the Facts, Not the Fiction

Monday, March 26, 2012 9:10 AM comments (0)

EpilepsyNearly one in 100 people are affected by epilepsy, and yet there are many common misunderstandings about this condition. Epilepsy by definition is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A single seizure episode does not constitute epilepsy.

In recognition of Purple Day—a day dedicated to increase awareness about epilepsy—Lawrence Bernstein, MD, Neurologist at NorthShore, identifies some of the common misconceptions about epilepsy:

  • People with epilepsy cannot drive.
    True and False. A person suffering from a seizure when driving may put themselves and others at risk. Whether or not someone can drive will depend on state and local laws, as well as physician recommendations. In many cases, once someone has stabilized their condition (either through medication or another method) they may be allowed to resume driving. The decision to drive or not is often a personal decision made by the individual, family and healthcare professional.
  • People with epilepsy should not have children.
    False. While it is important for epileptic women to plan in advance and have a discussion with a neurologist, there is no reason why women cannot have children. In fact, the majority of pregnancies in epileptic women are uneventful.
  • Children with epilepsy never outgrow it.
    False. Epilepsy is not a lifelong condition. Many children who are on medications for epilepsy and remain seizure-free for two to four years can be tapered off their medication. While medications will not eliminate the existence of epilepsy for everyone, it’s advisable to coordinate best treatment options with your pediatric neurologist.
  • All epilepsy is inherited.
    False. While a family history of epilepsy may increase the risk for developing the condition, it is not the only factor and the risk is often very low.
  • Epilepsy is contagious.
    False. This condition cannot be spread or passed on to others. More than 70 percent of epilepsy cases are not linked to a specific cause. Frequent risk factors for developing epilepsy include: age, previous injury to the brain, stroke, and infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.
  • If medications do not work there is no useful treatment.
    False. Medication is one treatment option for epilepsy. Other useful treatments include: surgery, nerve and brain stimulation, and diet.

What other misconceptions do you have about epilepsy? Are there other questions you have about this condition?

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