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

Thursday, November 16, 2017 7:49 AM

About 1% of children ages 0-17 years old have a diagnosis of epilepsy and an overall 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy over their life span. 

Epilepsy is a disorder involving two or more repeated unprovoked seizures. These can be episodes of disturbed brain function associated with changes in attention and/or behavior, or the commonly envisioned jerking and shaking of extremities with drooling. It is possible for some children to outgrow the disorder, others can have it easily managed through medication and some may be more severely impacted throughout their lives. Many children will outgrow the epilepsy but this is depending on the seizure type while others will be easily controlled with seizure medications.

Takijah Heard, MD, Pediatric Epileptologist at NorthShore, 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 give your child his or her medication as prescribed around the same time each night.
  • Seizures are frequently triggered by sleep deprivation, illness and head trauma. The biggest way to prevent seizures and the development of epilepsy is to avoid these these important seizure triggers.
  • If your child has uncontrolled epilepsy, avoid allowing your child to climb higher than his or her height at places such as the playground.
  • Avoid leaving the child in unsupervised bodies of water including bathtubs, Jacuzzis and pools. All patients with epilepsy are strongly encouraged to take showers instead of baths.
  • If the seizures are uncontrolled, avoid using sharp objects such as steak knives or scissors.
  • 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. 
  • 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, sharp objects or lawn mower.

 Parents, what are other precautions that you recommend for growing up with epilepsy?