How Are Seizures Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. Youll be asked about other factors that may have caused your childs seizure, such as:
Recent fever or infection
Your child may also have:
A neurological exam
Blood tests to check for problems in blood sugar and other factors
Imaging tests of the brain, such as a magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scan
Electroencephalogram to test the electrical activity in your childs brain
Lumbar puncture to measure the pressure in the brain and spinal canal and test the cerebrospinal fluid for infection or other problems
Focal Seizure That Becomes Generalized
A focal seizure that becomes generalized begins with one part of the body and then spreads to the entire body. Unless you watch closely, it may look like the child has had a generalized seizure because the focal seizure may be so short that it is missed.
This type of seizure begins with nerve cells having extra discharges in one part of the brain. This then spreads and affects the whole brain. For a more detailed description of the various types of generalized seizures, refer to the Helping Hand:;Seizures: Generalized, HH-I-182.
What Causes The Epilepsies
The epilepsies have many possible causes, but for up to half of people with epilepsy a cause is not known. In other cases, the epilepsies are clearly linked to genetic factors, developmental brain abnormalities, infection, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, or other identifiable problems. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuronal activity from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development can lead to seizures.
The epilepsies may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signaling in the brain , or some combination of these factors. In some pediatric conditions abnormal brain wiring causes other problems such as intellectual impairment.
In other persons, the brain’s attempts to repair itself after a head injury, stroke, or other problem may inadvertently generate abnormal nerve connections that lead to epilepsy. Brain malformations and abnormalities in brain wiring that occur during brain development also may disturb neuronal activity and lead to epilepsy. ;
Don’t Miss: Is Minecraft Good For Your Brain
How Is Stimulation Of The Vagus Nerve Achieved
Stimulation of the vagus nerve is achieved through vagal nerve stimulation . VNS involves placing a pacemaker-like device that produces an electrical impulse to stimulate the vagus nerve. Epilepsy is a disorder where unexpected electrical discharges from the brain cause seizures. Most seizures are resolved by antiseizure medications. However, some seizures that originate from one area of the brain cannot be controlled with just medications. VNS is a useful option in such instances because it affects one part of the brain.
What Else I Should Know
Seizures affect thinking in different ways for everyone. Even if you have seizures that start near your hippocampus, your memory may not become extremely bad. Many different things need to be considered, such as:
- How long you’ve had seizures
- How long each seizure lasts
- What you are naturally good and bad at
- The effects of your medications
Talk with your health care team;if you are concerned about changes in your memory, language, or executive function.
Also Check: What Part Of The Brain Controls Love
Focal Or Partial Seizures
Focal seizures are also called partial seizures since they begin in one area of the brain. They can be caused by any type of focal injury that leaves scar tangles. Medical history or MRI will identify a cause in about half of the people who have focal seizures. Developmental scars ones that occur as part of fetal and early growth of the brain are common causes of focal seizures in children.
What Causes Seizures And Epilepsy
Although epilepsy is more likely in certain low grade tumours, we don’t fully understand why this;is the case.
Suggestions include abnormally developed cells around the tumour that fire more often, causing disorganised electrical activity in the brain, which leads to seizures. This is sometimes the cause in people with non-brain tumour-related epilepsy.
Or it could be due to the tumour causing a disturbance in the balance of chemicals in the brain, causing the nerve cells to fire more often.
Its important to remember that an increase in the frequency of your seizures doesnt necessarily mean that your tumour has returned or is regrowing.
Don’t Miss: What Connects The Eye To The Brain
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- This is the first time the person has had a seizure
- A seizure lasts more than 2 to 5 minutes
- The person does not awaken or have normal behavior after a seizure
- Another seizure starts soon after a seizure ends
- The person had a seizure in water
- The person is pregnant, injured, or has diabetes
- The person does not have a medical ID bracelet
- There is anything different about this seizure compared to the person’s usual seizures
Report all seizures to the person’s provider. The provider may need to adjust or change the person’s medicines.
When To Call A Professional
If you are experiencing periodic episodes that could be seizures, you should be evaluated by a doctor. If you are a woman who is considering pregnancy, discuss your seizure history and your medications with your doctor before attempting to get pregnant.
If you witness another person having a partial seizure, it is not necessary to call a doctor right away. You can take the following steps:
- Keep the person safe by removing sharp or hot objects from reach.
- Guide the person away from traffic.
- Reassure others nearby if you know that the person is having a seizure, so that they can understand the situation.
- If the person is agitated, stay a safe distance away.
- If the person has strong, sudden body movements and is lying down, place a cushion or folded clothing under the head. Roll the person onto one side to prevent him or her from choking.
- Do not place any objects into the person’s mouth.
- If the person is confused when the seizure ends, explain what happened in a calm voice.
A seizure that continues for more than five minutes may not stop easily on its own and can become a medical emergency. Seizures are also more worrisome in pregnant women or in people with diabetes. In these cases, call immediately for advice.
Recommended Reading: How To Dissolve Blood Clots In The Brain
Aftereffects Of A Seizure
After a seizure, a person may experience a variety of effects that may persist for several minutes or even hours.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, people may feel tired, weak, and confused after a seizure has ended. Other common symptoms include headaches or pain in the muscles that contracted during the seizure.The specific aftereffects that a person experiences can help a healthcare professional determine which part of the brain seizure originated in.
One example is Todds paralysis, a temporary paralysis in part of the body due to the area of the brain the seizure originated in. If the seizure stemmed from the temporal lobe, a person is more likely to experience language or behavioral changes.
- crying out
- falling to the ground
Focal seizures, or partial seizures, originate in just one area of the brain. Subcategories of focal seizures include:
- Focal aware seizures: These affect a small portion of the brain and often cause twitching or changes in sensation, such as vision, feeling, scent, or taste.
- Focal unaware seizures: These seizures can cause people to feel dazed or confused. A person may lose the ability to speak or process language for several minutes after this type of seizure has occurred.
- Secondary generalized seizures: These seizures begin in one part of the brain but spread to other parts of the brain as they progress, leading to a tonic-clonic seizure.
These symptoms include:
Differences In Study Design
Each study that investigates seizures and the brain has a different design. Different researchers may use different methods to address a question. They may also interpret their results differently from another group.
Sample size is also important. For example, a study with only a small number of people may not be representative of whats happening in larger groups.
Some studies may also assess participants at only a single point in time. This is much different than following the course of someones epilepsy over many years.
Also Check: Can Trauma Cause Memory Loss
How Do Seizures Affect Language
Seizures can affect language in different ways.;First of all, most people have the main part of their language functions on the left side of their brain. So if your seizures start on the right side of your brain, your language may not be affected at all. But even if your seizures start on the left side of your brain, hope is not lost. Seizures, by themselves, do not stop people from speaking or understanding words. Even if seizures happen every day for most of your life, you are still able to read, speak, and understand words. The main language problem caused by seizures is with finding words. Many people cannot think of the name of something, even when it is right in front of them. This is because seizures can damage the area where the word is stored, as well as the communication lines that carry or transport the word.
Seizures And Memory Networks
2016 study in rats looked at how seizure-like activity impacted memory consolidation. Memory function can be affected in some types of epilepsy, including temporal lobe epilepsy.
Memory consolidation normally happens during sleep and involves small ripples of activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain concerned with memory.
These ripples can be followed by activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area involved in higher-level cognitive functions.
In people with temporal lobe epilepsy, short bursts of electrical activity called IEDs can happen between seizures. The researchers wanted to see if these abnormal bursts of electrical activity impacted memory in rats. They found that:
- Stimulating IEDs in rats led to impaired memory in a maze-solving activity.
- The effect on memory increased with the amount of IEDs that a rat experienced.
- IEDs beginning in the hippocampus were followed by electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex. This happened while the rats were both asleep and awake.
- A similar pattern of activity was seen when observing 4 individuals with epilepsy and IEDs.
The researchers believe that IEDs can disrupt normal signaling for memory consolidation. In short, IEDs from the hippocampus may impact how the prefrontal cortex responds to signaling from this area, potentially affecting memory.
Symptoms Of Seizure Disorders
An aura describes how a person feels before a seizure starts. Usually, it is part of a focal aware seizure that is just starting. An aura may include any of the following:
Abnormal smells or tastes
Butterflies in the stomach
Feeling as if something has been experienced before even though it has not or the opposite feelingsomething seems unfamiliar even though it is familiar in some way
An intense feeling that a seizure is about to begin
Almost all seizures are relatively brief, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. Most seizures last 1 to 2 minutes.
Occasionally, seizures recur repeatedly, as occurs in status epilepticus.
Most people who have a seizure disorder look and behave normally between seizures.
Symptoms of seizures vary depending on which area of the brain is affected by the abnormal electrical discharge, as in the following:
An intensely pleasant or unpleasant taste if the part of the cerebrum called the insula is affected
Visual hallucinations if the occipital lobe is affected
Inability to speak if the area that controls speech is affected
A convulsion if large areas on both sides of the brain are affected
Seizures may be classified as
Motor: Involving abnormal muscle contractions
Nonmotor: Not involving abnormal muscle contractions
Symptoms also vary depending on whether the seizure is
There are several types of focal and generalized seizures. Most people have only one type of seizure. Others have two or more types.
Tips From Our Community
“I use the ‘My Medic Watch’ app on my smart watch, which can detect seizures and alerts people where I am. It has helped to give me more confidence when out and about.”
“I’ve had seizures where I couldn’t move at all but I could hear everything going on around me. So I told my family that it really helped if someone just spoke to me calmly as I’d usually be panicking inside.”
“I know that lack of sleep lowers my seizure theshold, so I try to be aware of that.”
“I found the main thing was to try and stay calm, but it can take some time for the brain to settle back to some kind of normality. When the seizure has finished I usually feel very confused and emotional and sometimes a bit embarrased by it all.”
Join one of our our Online Support Communities for more tips about coping with a brain tumour diagnosis, from people who truly understand what you’re going through.
Frequently asked questions
Can I still drive if I have seizures or epilepsy?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumour, you must tell the DVLA as soon as possible.
If you’ve not yet given up your licence or you’ve had your licence returned after treatment, you must stop driving and tell the DVLA if you have a seizure of any type. This is a legal requirement.
Whether you can apply to have your licence returned will depend on various factors such as:
- the occurrence and type of seizures
- the restrictions applied because of your brain tumour.
Don’t Miss: How Does Heroin Affect The Brain
What Are Partial Seizures
Nerve cells in the brain pass signals among themselves using both electrical current and chemicals. In a seizure, the brain’s electricity is not passed in an organized way from one cell to the next, but spreads over a cluster of cells or the whole brain all at once. When only a portion of the brain is involved, the seizures are called partial seizures or focal seizures. These seizures vary tremendously in their effects on the person’s movement, sensation or behavior depending on which area of brain is involved.
Some partial seizures are associated with a change in consciousness, even though the person might appear to be awake and his or her eyes may be open. In this type of seizure, called a complex partial seizure, the affected person is unaware of the people nearby during the event, is not aware of his or her own movements or behaviors during the seizure, and does not remember the seizure after it occurs. When the person having a partial seizure is aware of having a seizure, is aware of his or her surroundings and remembers the event afterward, the seizure is classified as a simple partial seizure.
Tell Me About Language
Different sites in the brain are in charge of speaking, understanding, and storing words. For speaking, Broca’s area takes the lead role. Broca’s area is located just above the front of the temporal lobe. It is the center for outgoing words. It receives information from the many parts of the brain where words are stored. It then sends this information to the part of the brain that controls your mouth. To understand words that you hear or read, Wernicke’s area steps in. Wernicke’s area is on the top part of the temporal lobe, toward the back. It is the center for incoming words. When you hear and understand words, phrases, and sentences, it is because Wernicke’s area has done its job. Words are stored in many different places throughout the brain. New research is finding that names and words may be stored by categories. For example, the names of animals are stored toward the front of the temporal lobe. Tools are stored farther back. Faces are stored at the bottom back section of the temporal lobe. Names of people that are close to you are stored at the very front of the temporal lobe, called the temporal pole.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Have A Brain Tumor
What Happens In Your Brain During A Seizure
Do you know what happens in the brain during a seizure? Read our simple guide to learn what happens at the level of brain cells and neurons.
Did you know that one in ten people will have at least one seizure in their lifetimes? Seizures are caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain. But what happens in the brain during a seizure? If you have epilepsy, youâll be familiar with the symptoms of seizures, but itâs also useful to know whatâs actually causing that behavior.Â;
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
A person who has had a new or severe seizure is usually seen in a hospital emergency room. The provider will try to diagnose the type of seizure based on the symptoms.
Tests will be done to rule out other medical conditions that cause seizures or similar symptoms. This may include fainting, transient ischemic attack or stroke, panic attacks, migraine headaches, sleep disturbances, and other possible causes.
Tests that may be ordered include:
- Blood and urine tests
- CT scan of the head or MRI of the head
- Lumbar puncture
Read Also: What Causes Slow Brain Waves
Mathematical Approach Could Pinpoint Which Brain Tissue Should Be Removed During Surgical Treatment
- Scientists have developed a new way to detect which areas of the brain contribute most greatly to epilepsy seizures, according to a new study. The strategy could help surgeons select specific brain areas for removal to stop seizures.
Scientists have developed a new way to detect which areas of the brain contribute most greatly to epilepsy seizures, according to a PLOS Computational Biology study. The strategy, devised by Marinho Lopes of the University of Exeter and colleagues, could help surgeons select specific brain areas for removal to stop seizures.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects about 1 out of every 100 people worldwide. Medications can often successfully control the seizures that characterize the disease, but about one third of patients require further treatment. Some receive surgery to remove brain regions that cause seizures, but only about 50 percent of surgeries result in long-term freedom from seizures.
To determine which areas of the brain may contribute most to a patient’s seizures, surgeons typically examine electroencephalograms , which reveal electrical activity in different parts of the brain. In the new study, an international team of scientists led by John Terry and other University of Exeter mathematicians sought to improve on this method.