Epilepsy

Description

Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system in which the person experiences recurrent seizures or convulsions. The seizures occur because of the abnormal signals sent by the cluster cells or neurons in the brain.

Causes

In children epilepsy can be due to abnormal brain development, genetic reasons, head injuries, fever, infection of the brain or its surrounding membranes (meningitis) and hydrocephalus (excess fluid within the brain).

Symptoms

Children with epilepsy may experience strange sensations, emotions, and behaviour along with convulsions, muscle spasms, and even loss of consciousness.

Types of epileptic seizures:

Epilepsy

Diagnosis

Your child’s doctor will perform a physical examination and use other tests to diagnose epilepsy. An Electroencephalogram (EEG) test may be suggested to check the electrical activity in the brain. An EEG records the brain's electrical activity via electrodes attached to your child's scalp. Children with epilepsy can have irregular electrical activity on their EEG. Scans of the brain, such as a CT scan or MRI scan may also be done.

Treatment

Treatment of epilepsy depends on the underlying cause. Anti-epileptic medications are the mainstay of treatment. Paediatric Neurologists and epileptologists have expertise in determining the best medication depending on the type of epilepsy. If medications do not work, your child's doctor may suggest surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators. Some patients with epilepsy may benefit from brain surgery where the abnormal brain cells causing the seizures are removed to control the seizures. In some cases, a device called a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is implanted underneath the skin of the chest, like a heart pacemaker, to control the number of seizures experienced. Some children with epilepsy are recommended to follow a special diet called a ketogenic diet to help prevent seizures.

  • Australian Medical Association (AMA)
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australia (RACP)
  • Australian and New Zealand Child Neurology Society, Australia (ANZCNS)
  • Epilepsy Society of Australia (ESA)
  • International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE)
  • International Child Neurology Association (ICNA)