Treatment For Epilepsy and Seizures

Specific treatment for epilepsy or a seizure in children will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • type of seizure
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

The goal of seizure management is to control, stop, or decrease the frequency of seizures in children without interfering with the child's normal growth and development. The major goals of seizure management include the following:

  • proper identification of the type of seizure
  • using medication specific to the type of seizure
  • using the least amount of medication to achieve adequate control
  • maintaining good medicating levels

Treatments for Pediatric Seizures

Medications

There are many types of medications used to treat seizures and epilepsy in children. Medications are selected based on the type of seizure, age of the child, side effects, the cost of the medication, and the adherence with the use of the medication.

Medications used at home are usually taken by mouth (as capsules, tablets, sprinkles, or syrup), but some can be given rectally (into the child's rectum). If the child is in the hospital with seizures, medication by injection or intravenous (IV) may be used.

It is important to give your child his/her medication on time and as prescribed by your child's physician. Different people use up the medication in their body differently, so adjustments (schedule and dosage) may need to be made for good control of seizures.

All medications can have side effects, although some children may not experience side effects. Discuss your child's medication side effects with his/her physician

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Some children, whose seizures are not being well-controlled with seizure medications, may benefit from a treatment procedure called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). VNS is currently only used for children over the age of 12 who have partial seizures that are not controlled by other methods.

VNS attempts to control seizures by sending small pulses of energy to the brain from the vagus nerve, which is a large nerve in the neck. This is done by surgically placing a small battery into the chest wall. Small wires are then attached to the battery and placed under the skin and around the vagus nerve. The battery is then programmed to send energy impulses every few minutes to the brain. When the child feels a seizure coming on, he/she may activate the impulses by holding a small magnet over the battery. In many people, this will help to stop the seizure.

There are some side of the effects that may occur with the use of VNS. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • hoarseness
  • pain or discomfort in the throat
  • change in voice

Surgery

Another treatment option for pediatric epilepsy and seizures is surgery. Surgery may be considered in a child who:

  • has seizures that are unable to be controlled with medications.
  • has seizures that always start in one area of the brain.
  • has a seizure in a part of the brain that can be removed without disrupting important behaviors such as speech, memory, or vision.

Surgical treatment for epilepsy and seizures is a very complicated surgery performed by a specialized surgical team. The operation may remove the part of the brain where the seizures are occurring, or, sometimes, the surgery helps to stop the spread of the bad electrical currents through the brain.

A child may be awake during the surgery. The brain itself does not feel pain. With the child awake and able to follow commands, the surgeons are better able to make sure that important areas of the brain are not damaged.

Surgery may not be an option for every child with epilepsy or seizures. Discuss this with your child's physician for more information

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