Is a toddler having a seizure?

A seizure involves a surge of electrical activity that occurs in the brain abruptly. Depending on the type of seizure and the history of episodes experienced by the individual, there might be subtle indications that the individual might have before the seizure takes place. On the other hand, it is difficult to determine in small children.

There are different types of known seizures that are broken down into two categories – generalized seizures and focal seizures. The focal seizures or partial seizures include those in which the individual remains conscious but experiences various sensations during the episode. As for the generalized seizures, they usually cause loss of consciousness and can trigger jerking movements or the individual may not even move at all. These various types of seizures can manifest distinctively, thus it is vital to know what kind a toddler has and be able to figure out when one is taking place.

  • Observe for sudden loss of consciousness in the child. This can occur right in the middle of playing without any warning or the toddler can appear disoriented right before the seizure starts.
  • Try to listen to the toddler if he/she starts to cry or produce unusual sounds with or without movement. A child who cries without being able to focus when being called or comfortably might be experiencing an active seizure.
  • Observe for any episodes in which the child appears to stare off into space and does not seem to hear or see when someone is attempting to get his/her attention. This is an indication of an absence seizure and usually lasts for a few seconds only.
  • Monitor the child for any changes in the muscular strength. A good example is when the child abruptly drops off objects held or falls. In some cases, the seizures can cause the individual to lose all muscle tone which is called as atonic seizures instead of becoming rigid in some kinds of seizures.
  • Always watch out for any abrupt stiffening and jerking episodes. Remember that this is an indication of the classic “tonic-clonic” seizure.

Observe for sudden loss of consciousness in the child.

Considerations to bear in mind

Do not insert anything into the mouth of the toddler if he/she is experiencing an active seizure. Remember that the child will not literally “swallow” his/her tongue and any object placed into the mouth can quickly turn into a choking hazard.

A child who experiences a seizure for the first time requires immediate medical attention. Call for emergency assistance if the toddler does not appear to regain consciousness, starts to show signs of difficulty breathing, strikes his/her head during a seizure episode or experiences back-to-back seizures.


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