Childhood seizure disorder doesn’t always appear the way most parents imagine. Instead of losing consciousness and having body-wide muscle spasms, children are more likely to have subtle, brief symptoms that may go unnoticed.
There are significantly more than five signs of childhood seizures. However, the range of symptoms goes into one of five categories. In this blog, our team at THINK Neurology for Kids gives you a rundown of the symptoms parents may notice when their child has a seizure.
Uncontrollable muscle movements
Uncontrollable muscle movements are the easiest to recognize, but that doesn’t mean they’re always noticeable. You may not see the movement if it only lasts a few seconds. Additionally, seizures are always short-lived, so you may not associate a symptom like eye blinking with a seizure.
Children older than six may have full-body convulsions, and children younger than five frequently have seizures due to a high fever. In both cases, the seizure includes muscle jerking or shaking (throughout the body or arms and legs) and loss of consciousness.
A few examples of more common muscle movements during a seizure include:
- Head nodding or turning
- Rapid eye blinking
- Chewing movements
- Lip smacking
- Hand rubbing
- Twitches in their limbs
- Stiff, rigid muscles (in their body, arms, or legs)
Your child could also lose muscle tone, causing weakness or limpness.
Changes in awareness
Losing consciousness is often considered a primary symptom of seizures, but changes in awareness depend on the type of seizure. One type, a generalized seizure, affects both sides of the brain and causes a total loss of consciousness.
However, children are more likely to have subtle changes in their level of awareness. They often look like they’re daydreaming and not paying attention because they don’t respond briefly.
They could have a short period of staring or a pause in their normal behavior. For example, your child may be sitting at the table writing or coloring, stop their activity for a few seconds or minutes, and then continue as if nothing happened.
If you’re interacting with them at the time of the seizure, you may notice they’re temporarily unable to communicate. Or they may fall (without losing consciousness) for no obvious reason.
Children often experience changes in their sensations. Things may taste, smell, feel, sound, or look funny or different to them. Your child may smell things that aren’t there, feel like they’re floating, or experience tingling (pins and needles) sensations. They may hear a buzzing sound, or sounds may seem different.
Some children may have sensory symptoms before a seizure begins. This sign, called aura, may cause them to see flashing lights, notice unusual smells, or have emotional or physical symptoms.
Cognitive and emotional symptoms
Your child may suddenly feel angry, fearful, or anxious for no apparent reason. After a seizure, they may seem scared, upset, sad, or ashamed. Cognitive symptoms typically occur after a seizure, causing confusion and memory loss or slowing their thought process.
The autonomic nervous system controls essential body functions, such as heartbeat, body temperature, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion.
During a seizure, children may experience autonomic symptoms, such as:
- Stomach ache
- Waves of hot and cold
- Heart palpitations
Heart palpitations include a fast heart rate, a pounding heart, or sensations like fluttering in the chest.
If you notice any worrisome signs of a seizure, it’s crucial to schedule a thorough neurological exam. We run simple, pain-free tests like an electroencephalogram (EEG) to get images of the electrical activity in your child’s brain, showing if they had a seizure.
Our team provides comprehensive and compassionate care for seizures at four convenient office locations in The Woodlands, Katy, Sugarland, and Lakeway, Texas. If you have questions about your child’s symptoms or need to schedule an appointment, don’t wait to call the nearest office, send a message or request an appointment online.