Your child has epilepsy. People with epilepsy have seizures. A seizure is a sudden brief change in the electrical and chemical activity in your brain. The doctor gave your child a physical and neurological examination and did some tests to find out why.
If the doctor sent your child home with some medicines, it is because more seizures could occur. The medicine can help your child avoid having seizures, but it does not guarantee that seizures will not occur. The doctor may need to change the dose of your child's seizure drugs or add new medicines. This may be because seizures happen even when your child is taking the medicines, or because your child is having side effects.
Your child should get plenty of sleep and try to have as regular schedule as possible. Try to avoid too much stress. You should still set rules and limits, along with consequences, for a child with epilepsy.
Make sure your home is safe to help prevent injuries when a seizure takes place.
Most children with seizures can lead an active lifestyle. Plan ahead for the possible dangers of a certain activity. Activities should be avoided if a loss of consciousness or control would result in an injury.
It should be easy for a student to carry and take seizure medicines at school. Teachers and others at schools should know about your child’s seizures and seizure medicines.
Your child should wear a medical alert or ID bracelet. Tell family members, friends, teachers, school nurses, babysitters, swimming instructors, lifeguards, and coaches about your child's seizure disorder.
Do not stop giving your child any seizure medicines without talking with your child’s doctor. Do not stop giving your child seizure drugs just because the seizures have stopped.
Tips for taking seizure medicines:
If your child misses a dose:
Alcohol and illegal drugs can change the way seizure drugs work. Be aware of this potential problem in teenagers.
The doctor or nurse will need to check your child’s blood levels of many seizure drugs on a regular basis.
Understand that seizure drugs have side effects. If your child started taking a new drug recently, or the doctor changed your child’s dose, these side effects may go away. Always ask the child’s doctor about any side effects. Also talk to your child's doctor about foods or other medications that can change the blood levels of anti-seizure drugs.
Once a seizure starts, there is no way to stop it. Family members and caregivers can only help make sure the child is safe from further injury and call for help, if needed.
When a seizure occurs, the main goal is to protect the child from injury and make sure the child can breathe well. Try to prevent a fall. Help the child to the ground in a safe area. Clear the area of furniture or other sharp objects. Turn the child on their side to make sure the child's airway does not get obstructed during the seizure.
Things to avoid:
Call your child’s doctor if your child has:
Call 911 if:
Foldvary-Schaefer N, Wyllie E. Epilepsy. In: Goetz C, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd edition. Saunders. 2007: Chap 52.
Mikati MA. Seizures in childhood. In: Kliegmann RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th edition. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 586.
Trescher WH, Lesser RP. The epilepsies. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:chap 71.
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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