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Taipei City Hospital

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Understanding the pediatric epilepsy

       “Seizures can take on many different forms and be classified into different categories accordingly, in which the most terrifying one is called the generalized tonic-clonic seizure, or the grand mal seizure. As a seizure occurs, patients will have a loss of consciousness, upward gaze, teeth clenching and foaming at the mouth. The limbs will be stretched strongly at first, following by limb twitches. The disease is also commonly called ‘Mad Sheep Epilepsy’ or ‘Mother Pig Epilepsy’ (in Taiwanese) as the patient will make animal-like howling sounds due to his/her muscles being over-contracted and relaxed, causing the air to be expelled from the lungs,” said Dr. Chung-Hao Wang, a pediatrician at Taipei City Hospital Heping Fuyou Branch.

       Most of the seizures happen with no physicians, but families or friends on-site. Therefore, they have to accurately describe the patient information, such as the appearance and duration of the seizure or whether the patient experienced drowsiness, to physicians for accurate diagnosis. It is extremely important for parents to remain calm and take a record of their infant or child, such as the duration of the seizure or whether he/she has a fever, and inform these details to the physician. It is also recommended to use mobile phones for video recording and provide the video to the physician as a diagnostic reference. Be aware not to place any item into the infant’s or child’s mouth to avoid injuries; the infant or child can be laid down on his/her side, allowing saliva to flow out from the corner of the mouth to prevent the obstruction of the airways.

       In fact, epilepsy is a type of chronic disease—just like hypertension and diabetes. The only effective treatment is through medication and surgery; other approaches, like acupuncture, herbal medicine and even qigong (the energy cultivation), have been attempted, but lack valid evidence for efficacy. Epilepsy is not terrifying; in fact, there is a greater chance of recovery with early detection and treatment.