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Partial Seizures in Children: Types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment explained

  • Posted on- Jun 27, 2016
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Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This generally leads to sudden changes in behaviour such as rhythmic changes and mental confusion.

Abnormal electrical discharges in the brain are the basic cause of seizure. Such discharges cause muscle spasms, loss of consciousness and strange sensations. Seizures may affect any process controlled by the brain. It can occur in any individual, of any age. Many children are seen to suffer from seizures. It is mainly of two types, partial and generalised. In infants, the partial seizures causes include birth trauma, metabolic or chemical imbalances present in the body, fever or infection and congenital disorders. The causes in children and adolescents are alcohol or drug addiction, infection, injury to the head, congenital disorders and genetic abnormality.

Types of partial seizures in children

There are two types of partial seizures in children. These are simple and complex. The simple type of partial seizure in children commonly occurs in the occipital lobe. It is the back part of the brain that controls vision. The child may experience visual disturbances. There is also a likelihood of muscles getting affected. The seizure occurs in an isolated muscle group such as fingers. It may also occur in the muscles of arms and legs. The symptoms usually last for less than a minute. There is no loss of consciousness. Other symptoms include nausea, sweating and discolouring of skin.

The complex type of partial seizure in children generally occurs in the temporal lobe of the brain. This region of the brain is responsible for controlling emotions and memory functions. It lasts for more than a minute, for maximum 2-3 minutes. The child loses consciousness and shows some symptoms like continuous lip smacking, screaming, laughing, crying, gagging or running. The child complains of tiredness and sleepiness after seizures.

Symptoms of partial seizures in children

  • Continuous staring
  • Episodes of rapid eye blinking
  • Abnormal head movement
  • Sudden jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Sleepiness and irritability upon waking from sleep
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • No response to words or sound for a short period
  • Falling suddenly with no apparent reason
  • Brief arrest of respiration
  • Discolouring of the lips during seizures
  • Continuous running, laughing, screaming or crying
  • Nausea
  • Hallucination
  • Sweating
  • Changes in mood or emotion
  • Lip smacking
  • Chewing or swallowing without any cause

Diagnosis of partial seizures in children

For proper evaluation of partial seizures, a complete physical examination, blood work, urine test, medical history and family history is done. Doctor performs EEG to record the electrical activity of the brain by means of electrodes attached to the brain. He may conduct a number of other tests as well, such as NINDS, EEG, CAT, MRI and PET.

Treatment of partial seizures in children

Medication is always the first option for treating partial seizures in children. Usually, anti-seizure medicines are prescribed when there is a possibility of occurrence of seizures in future. In case, the child experiences seizures even after being on the prescribed medication, other options for treatment are considered. These most important ones are ketogenic diet and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Ketogenic diet consists of high amount of fat, very low amounts of proteins and absolutely no carbohydrates. It helps a lot in curing seizures. The exact reason is not yet known. However, it is believed that it mimics some effects of starvation by making the body use fat instead of glucose as a source of energy. During the process of VNS, regular but mild electrical pulses are sent to the brain through the vagus nerve. The device for VNS is placed under the skin of the chest wall and a wire runs to the vagus nerve present in the neck.

In case, you happen to find a child experiencing a seizure, you can do some things to relax and calm him down. Ask the child to lie down on the floor on his side. Make sure that he is away from furniture and any other object that might hurt him in any way. Loosen any tight clothing around the child's neck or head. Call a neurologist as soon as possible for further necessary actions. Sufficient advancements have been made in the field of medicine to treat partial seizures in children.


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17-12-2017 05:44 AM

My seizures started when I was 10 nd every case is a unique one. I'm now 38, i have graduated and I'm well respected in my profession. I had a normal fun child hood and seizures now hardly phase me... its no different then getting an annoying cold or a broken nail. I can't speak for everyone but I've had a good life so far.

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22-02-2017 10:44 AM

I began having seizures when I was 14 and in 8th grade. It was not easy for me. I am almost 36 now, and I suppose epilepsy was something to be ashamed of back then. I do not know. My parents just gave me the medicine and sent me on my way.

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