Recognizing November as Epilepsy Awareness Month
It’s estimated that four in every 1,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. That amounts to approximately 5,000 children in Valley Children’s 12-county service area. In recognition of November as Epilepsy Awareness Month, Valley Children’s is working to raise awareness about this diagnosis and the innovative ways we’re working to treat kids affected by epilepsy right here in the Valley.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes someone to have seizures. It affects children and adults of all demographics and is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system.
Seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy and are caused by an interruption in normal brain signals. The brain consists of nerve cells that communicate with each other through electrical activity. When one or more parts of the brain has a burst of abnormal electrical signals that interrupt normal brain signals, a seizure occurs. Anything that interrupts the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain can cause a seizure. This includes a high fever, high or low blood sugar or a brain concussion. When a child has two or more seizures with no known cause, it is diagnosed as epilepsy.
Symptoms of a seizure are different from person to person. These symptoms can include: blank staring, jerking movements of the arms and legs, stiffening of the body, loss of consciousness, nodding head rhythmically (when associated with loss of awareness or consciousness), periods of rapid eye blinking and staring. During a seizure, a child’s lips may become tinted blue and his or her breathing may not be normal. After the seizure, it’s not uncommon for a child to be sleepy or confused.
If you encounter someone having a seizure, here are some things you can do to help:
- Help the person down in a safe position, turn them to their side, cushion their head and time the seizure.
- Never hold them down or force anything into their mouth.
- Comfort the person and speak calmly, and help others also remain calm.
- Check to see if the person is wearing a medical bracelet or has other visible emergency information and stay with them until they are awake and alert.
- If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or the person doesn’t return to their original state, call 911.
- If they’re fine, offer to call or coordinate a ride to make sure the person gets home safely.
About Valley Children’s Level 4 Epilepsy Center
Valley Children’s Epilepsy Center is the only center in Central California to be recognized as a level 4 by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). This means our center provides the most complex forms of neurodiagnostic monitoring, as well as extensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial treatment. We also offer a complete evaluation for epilepsy surgery and a broad range of surgical procedures for epilepsy.
Beyond medical treatment, Valley Children’s knows there are other components involved in providing the best care. Beyond managing seizures, we also help children and their families with nutrition, emotional needs, support groups, transitioning to adulthood and more.