How to Support a Child With Epilepsy

Any parent who hears their child has been diagnosed with epilepsy may understandably be anxious. However, parents should know that many children with epilepsy live vibrant, social lives filled with school, sports, and extracurriculars.

Children with epilepsy often see much success in managing their seizures through medication. You can further support your child by following these seven tips.

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1. Understand Epilepsy
Learning all you can about epilepsy is one of the best ways to support your child. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes abnormal brain activity, seizures, unusual behaviour, and even unconsciousness. It occurs in all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and age groups.

2. What Are Common Symptoms?
Seizure symptoms will look different for all patients, especially young children who typically experience more seizures than adults. Frequent symptoms of attacks might include convulsions, loss of consciousness, confusion, nodding of the head, periods of staring, twitching of the upper body, and shaking an arm or leg.

While witnessing your child undergo a seizure is a nerve-wracking experience, it's essential to realize the risk of severe injury or death from the episode is low for most children. Most attacks end after a couple of minutes and are managed with medication.

3. What Causes Epilepsy?
A group of overactive neurons disrupt one's brain and induce seizure activity. Epilepsy can be generated by abnormal brain development, brain tumours, head injuries, or stroke. Some types of epilepsy are passed genetically in families.

4. How Is It Diagnosed?

Doctors use electroencephalography (EEG) to track neurons in a patient’s brain and diagnose epilepsy. Sometimes physicians might also use a brain MRI to check for anatomical abnormalities.

5. Learn Seizure First Aid
To protect your child, you’ll want to understand seizure first aid to keep them safe during an attack. Note that most episodes do not require emergency attention. The NHS states you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance if: it's the first time someone has had a seizure. the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes. the person does not regain full consciousness, or has several seizures without regaining consciousness.

● If your child is prone to grand mal seizures, those that involve convulsions throughout the entire body and loss of consciousness, ease them to the floor.

● Turn your child to their side to help them breathe. Put a folded jacket or pillow beneath their head.

● Ensure the area is clear of anything hard or sharp to prevent injury.

● If your child wears glasses, remove them.

● During the seizure, stay with your child and ensure they are fully awake. Do not hold them down, put anything in their mouth, or give them CPR.

● After the seizure ends, help them sit in a safe place and tell them what happened.

● Comfort your child and hug them.

Having a seizure action plan in place before an episode occurs will help you be ready to support your child when the time comes. You'll have the peace of mind to meet their needs and be confident you can manage their seizures.

6. Manage Seizures With Medication
Talk to your child’s doctor about the best medication to control their seizures. When your child takes their seizure medicine routinely, and as recommended by their doctor, they have the opportunity to live episode-free. If your child misses a dose, they could experience side effects that negatively affect their lives. As the parent, you can administer the medicine or remind your child to take the daily dose.

Additionally, help advocate for your child if you notice the current medication regimen isn’t working. There are numerous clinical trials focused on epilepsy for your child to participate in. Help elevate their voice in doctor’s appointments or pharmacy consultations.

7. Build a Support Network
To further help your child, you’ll want to encourage a network of friends and family. Ensure your child stays active socially and try not to limit their interactions because you fear seizures. You can start with having playdates at your home in case one occurs. Talk to friends’ parents to discuss your seizure action plan for playdates at other homes.

Talk with teachers at school about your child’s epilepsy so everyone is on the same page. Encourage your child to join clubs and sports leagues, pursuing interests as they previously did. If coaches and club leaders are aware of your child’s epilepsy and understand what to do in the event of a seizure, your child should be able to participate in all activities.

The more activities your child pursues, the fuller their life will become. The emphasis will be shifted away from their illness and onto interests they enjoy. Supporting your child in this way additionally helps to build their confidence socially.

Help Your Child Manage Their Epilepsy

As you learn more about epilepsy, ensure your child understands their condition too. Empower them to speak for themselves during doctor visits and give them confidence socially by building a support network of family and friends.

*Collaborative Post