Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes
Nerve cells in the brain send and receive
information to each other via electrical activity. Seizures occur when there is
a sudden, abnormal increase in the brain’s electrical activity, and for a short
time, the brain goes into a short circuit. This results in a seizure episode.
The following misconceptions are debunked below:
Epilepsy can be caused by anything that affects
the brain. Some examples include brain infection (meningitis or encephalitis),
head injuries, complications that happened before or during birth, brain tumour
or inherited brain disorders such as tuberous sclerosis.
It may or may not run in the family. Everyone
inherits a “seizure threshold” at birth, which is the point at which we may
have a seizure if the brain is sufficiently irritated. People with lower
seizure thresholds have increased tendency of having seizures. This means that
although two children may receive almost identical injuries to the brain, the
one with the lower seizure threshold is more likely to develop epilepsy.
Occasionally, no definite cause can be found. Some
forms of epilepsy are due to the imbalance in the neurotransmitters (brain
chemical) or specific receptors in the brain nerve cells.
Seizures can result in brain damage if it is prolonged for more than an hour. If your child has seizures occurring one after another (cluster of seizures) without regaining consciousness or a seizure that does not stop after 30 minutes, it constitutes a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention and treatment.
Children or adolescents with epilepsy should avoid sports like rock climbing or gymnastics where falling from a height can occur.
When swimming, ensure one to one supervision for your child at all times.
It is safer for your child to take a shower instead of bathing in a bathtub to prevent possible drowning in the event a seizure occurs bath time.
It is advisable to wear a helmet for activities like cycling.
Your child will need to start taking an antiepileptic drug for a period of time, usually for a minimum of two years if there are no breakthrough seizures. The antiepileptic drug controls your child's seizures and is not addictive.
For the antiepileptic drug to work properly, it has to be kept at a steady level in the blood. The level has to be high enough to prevent seizures. Your child may need blood tests from time to time to ensure the drug dosage is right.
Drugs do not remain in the body permanently. Like the food we consume, medicines are converted and eliminated by our bodily processes. To maintain the medicine level in the body, your child has to take the medication at the prescribed time each day and regularly.
Not having a seizure means the drug is working. It does not mean that your child should stop taking his/her prescribed medication.
Seizures do not occur in most children again if they take their medication regularly. If your child starts having seizures again despite a long period of control with medication, it does not mean that the epilepsy is getting worse. It happens because the physical makeup of your child changes as he/she grows. As a result, his/her medication may have to be adjusted.
The process of reducing your child's medication or even taking him/her off completely should only be undertaken with the doctor's close supervision. Do not try it on your own.
You should bring your child to the Children's Emergency if he/she experiences any of the following:
Sudden unexpected death in
epilepsy (SUDEP) is the sudden, unexpected death of someone with epilepsy,
who was otherwise well. It affects one in 1,000
people per year and has a higher occurrence for those with uncontrolled
seizures1. The cause of SUDEP is unknown as it usually occurs in the night or
during sleep that leave little to no evidence of a seizure before death. Being
compliant with medication and avoiding triggers such as lack of sleep will
reduce the risk of SUDEP.
Singapore Epilepsy Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promote public awareness and education on topics surrounding epilepsy for the welfare of people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Care Group (Singapore) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organisation that addresses the needs of persons with epilepsy and their caregivers in Singapore.
We see many patients with seizures and have a comprehensive medical, nursing and education programme to enhance control of seizures. Part of our education programme includes teaching parents and caregivers how to administer first aid medication (e.g. rectal diazepam) in the event of a fit. 86% of patients whose caregivers used rectal diazepam managed to abort seizures, with only 14% requiring further treatment in the emergency room and/or required admission to the hospital.
Information correct as of January 2021