Epilepsy in Children | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

Epilepsy can have a profound effect on a child’s life. Some children may fall or get injured during a seizure, and the episode can leave your child exhausted. The abnormal brain activity that happens during a seizure can sometimes cause damage to the brain. This is a special concern in children because their brains are still growing and changing.

Because the brain controls all aspects of the body, seizures can have many different effects on a child depending on where in the brain the abnormal electrical activity occurs. Seizures can be subtle and barely noticeable or frightening to witness.

Symptoms can include:

  • staring
  • tremors, convulsions or jerking movements in the arms and legs
  • stiffening of the body
  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing problems
  • loss of bowel or bladder control
  • falling suddenly for no apparent reason
  • not responding to noise or words for short periods of time
  • appearing confused or in a haze
  • extreme sleepiness and irritability when waking up in the morning
  • head nodding or dropping
  • periods of rapid eye blinking
  • changes in vision and speech
  • vomiting

What causes epilepsy?

A seizure happens when cells in the brain fire or “talk” too much, temporarily disrupting the brain’s normal electrical signals. Epilepsy and seizures have many possible causes, including:

  • head injuries
  • birth trauma
  • congenital conditions (conditions that your child is born with) such as brain development disorders
  • brain tumors
  • heredity
  • degenerative brain disorders
  • stroke
  • metabolic problems

In more than half of children, however, a cause cannot be found.