Seizures: Management in children
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition and one that school nurses are likely to deal with due to its prevalence in the population. It is therefore important to know how to manage a child having a seizure in the community. Having an appreciation of the long-term management with antiepileptic drugs to try to prevent and control seizures is useful. Children suffering from epilepsy may experience a seizure at any time, often without warning, so an understanding of the correct first aid measures and the use of emergency medication is key. It is also important to know when further medical help is required as well as when it may not be. This article will give a brief overview of the management of seizures in children, covering both prevention and initial management in the community setting.
Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition affecting all ages, including children (Neligan and Sander, 2015). Approximately 600 000 people in the UK live with epilepsy, equivalent to around one in 103 people (YoungEpilepsy, 2020).
Epilepsy is not a single condition but a group of many varied ‘epilepsies’. Having epilepsy simply means a tendency to have seizures and having a single seizure does not mean that someone has epilepsy (YoungEpilepsy, 2020).
A seizure is the occurrence of signs or symptoms due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can be triggered by many different causes. This may manifest in a variety of ways; for example, a disturbance of consciousness, change in behaviour, cognition, emotion, motor function or sensation (Fisher et al, 2017). Seizures may be focal, affecting only one part of the brain and on only one side or hemisphere, or be generalised, affecting both sides of the brain. Focal seizures can, however, progress to affect both sides of the brain. See Table 1 below for information on the different types of seizure.
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