They can be caused by stress or genetics, but most commonly doctors say seizures are caused by sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. “There’s a variety of causes for seizures, and often we are happy when we know what it’s not. Meningitis, syphilitics, brain bleed, tumor, those are all the causes that we don’t want to find,” said Dr. Britt Stroud, a pediatric neurologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Much like the cause, the way a child behaves when they have a seizure can also vary—doctors say the response is based on where the seizure is coming from in the brain. “Sometimes we have individuals who awaken in the middle of the night, and they’ll be screaming and hollering, frontal lobe seizures can present in that fashion,” said Dr. Stroud.
Other times children may present with sleep disorders, staring episodes, or uncontrolled muscle spasms. “If you had a child that came in and had some sort of spells and we thought that could be a seizure, typically we will do a routine EEG,” he said.
An EEG study uses cameras and electrodes to monitor a child’s brain activity during a series of tests. “By looking at this, if there were an event that occurred at this very point in time, I would look at it and say, actually we don’t have seizures. This is something very different,” said Dr. Stroud.
If a child is diagnosed with seizures or epilepsy, treatments like medication or surgery are available. “Kids are more likely to grow out of seizures than adults,” he said.
The good news is doctors say seizures typically don’t cause brain damage—but testing is important to determine the cause and severity of the seizures.
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