What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the child’s central nervous system and deals with electrical signals of the brain misfiring. As a result of these electrical disruptions or misfirings, the nerve cells experience temporary problems with communication, which causes seizures.
Seizures can be considered to be “electrical storms” that makes the brain react to things in unintended ways. If a child has one seizure – or even several seizures – it doesn’t necessarily mean the child suffers from epilepsy. Children who suffer from epilepsy are more likely to have several seizures over long periods of times, such as months or years.
While approximately 3 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, most of the newly diagnosed cases are in children. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, and some kids outgrow their seizures by their teens. It’s important to understand that epilepsy is not a mental illness and isn’t the only source of childhood seizures. This condition isn’t contagious and has no direct relation to a child’s intelligence. Most importantly, epilepsy typically will not worsen over time.
Treatments for Epilepsy
The physician will use various tests and exams to arrive at the optimum treatment plan for epilepsy. In most cases, the first line of defense for seizure prevention and epilepsy management is medication. Many kids are treated successfully with a single medication.
However, if the first medicine doesn’t work, the doctor may try a second or third medication before they decide to use a combination of medication. With epilepsy, no medication is the end-all for the condition, and side effects are a possibility. The most common side effects include:
- Behavioral or mood concerns
- Decreased alertness
In rare instances, the physician may order blood tests to watch for side effects or to monitor the level of the medication in the bloodstream.