Childhood Epilepsy’s Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
The years of childhood are some of the most exciting years, but it can also have hidden trials. Young children are susceptible to a number of illnesses and disorders, some of which can take a family by surprise. Some of these illnesses and disorders are temporary, lasting only a few years, but others can have long-term effects that continue to plague individuals.
One of these illnesses is childhood epilepsy. The term, however, can be a little misleading. Epilepsy is often used as a blanket term for a number of different conditions and disorders.
Many of these disorders, regardless of symptoms, treatments, or causes, have long-term effects that can disrupt life, development, and even future endeavors. This disorder, like many others, can impact many opportunities for people. It can make necessary life choices more difficult, like epilepsy and life insurance.
It’s important to understand childhood epilepsy and operate from a place of empathy and compassion for children who do suffer from this disorder.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy, especially epilepsy in childhood, is a set of neurological disorders that can cause both seizures or unusual sensations. The seizures and sensations associated with epilepsy can cause unusual behaviors.
The difficulty with childhood epilepsy is just how broad the disorder is. Children who suffer from epilepsy can have minor, almost unnoticeable episodes. Others, however, can have severe, even seizures.
Epilepsy is a very common disorder. There are more than 3 million cases every year in the U.S, but few cases are exactly the same. Everything from causes, symptoms, and management can be vastly different.
The causes of childhood epilepsy are many. It can even be difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes an epilepsy disorder or episode. The most common causes of childhood epilepsy are:
- Head injury
- Lack of oxygen
The truth is, however, that most cases of childhood epilepsy can’t be connected to any one specific cause. A family history of seizure disorders or epilepsy can increase the likelihood of childhood epilepsy.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Childhood Epilepsy
Symptoms of epilepsy can be different from person to person. How the disorder presents itself and how severe the seizure or episode is depends on the person and type of seizure. Some of the most common symptoms of childhood epilepsy are:
- Fear, anxiety, or other psychological symptoms
- Loss of consciousness
- Staring blankly
- Temporary confusion
- Unusual or uncontrollable movements of limbs
Diagnosis is a fairly involved medical process. To be diagnosed with epilepsy, a child will require a number of diagnostic tests and procedures. The majority of these tests look at and analyze the function of the brain.
Types of Epilepsy
Because epilepsy is a broad spectrum, there are a number of different types of epilepsy and seizures. Each child can experience different types of seizures. The type of seizure depends on where it starts and how much of the brain is involved.
The most common types of seizures are partial or generalized. Partial seizures only affect one part of the brain. Partial seizures may cause a loss of consciousness, but they don’t always.
Generalized seizures, on the other hand, affect the entire brain. These types of seizures invariably affect a child’s consciousness. These descriptions are incredibly general, but each one has a lengthy set of subtypes with varying symptoms and effects.
Treatments for Childhood Epilepsy
The good news is that even though there is no known cure for epilepsy, there are a number of different treatment options that help manage this disorder. The most common treatment is medication. The type, dosage, and availability of medication will depend on the type of disorder the child is suffering from.
Medication isn’t the only treatment option, however. Treatment options may include therapy, self-care, nutrition, and even surgery. Surgery is most often a last resort.
Perhaps the best news: A large majority of the children who suffer from epilepsy will outgrow the disorder.
Effects of Childhood Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a devastating disorder. Children who suffer from epilepsy face a number of challenges every day, and it can affect them years in the future.
Day-to-day life for children with epilepsy can be difficult. Every parent wants busy, active, healthy kids, but that is difficult with children with epilepsy.
Children with epilepsy often have a multi-pronged approach to treatment and management. Outside of their medications, nutrition, and therapy, children have to be careful about how they interact with the world.
Children who suffer from epilepsy from brain injury are at greater risk of epilepic seizures when they are bumped or jostled. This means these they may not be able to participate in all childhood activities.
For children with epilepsy, a less active approach to exercise may be beneficial. Consider nature walks or individual sports and activities. This keeps children safer, but they are still exercising and helping to manage their disorder.
While most children with epilepsy outgrow the disorder, there are some who deal with epilepsy throughout their life. For these individuals, epilepsy causes some long-term problems and conditions.
For people who suffer with epilepsy throughout their lives, they can have issues with reproduction. Seizures and related disorders affect the production of reproductive hormones, including low testosterone production.
The good news is, however, that women who suffer from epilepsy can have perfectly healthy pregnancies.
There are also long-term effects with other major body systems. People who suffer from epilepsy can struggle with issues related to their cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Each seizure disrupts the function of these systems, and prolonged seizures can cause permanent damage to every system.
Epilepsy and Life Insurance
Another long-term effect of epilepsy happens outside a person’s body. Epilepsy is often considered a preexisting condition, which can have major effects on life insurance coverage and options.
Life insurance providers want their customers and clients to live long, healthy lives. When an insurance provider takes on a new client, they require that client to take an exam that assesses the risk factors.
For people with epilepsy, this does not mean you are immediately disqualified from getting life insurance. This condition does, however, bring up more risk factors and concerns. The risk will ultimately determine your type of coverage and the associated costs.
The management of epilepsy and the severity of an individual’s disorder will also help determine coverage and cost. The good news is that life insurance is possible for epilepsy patients. It’s important to comparison shop different life insurance companies and find the coverage that fits your needs and budget.
Childhood epilepsy is a life-altering disorder and diagnosis. For most, this disorder is temporary, but it can still be devastating. It’s all about empathizing with children who suffer from this disorder and understanding childhood epilepsy.
Laura Gunn writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, QuickQuote.com. She is a stay-at-home mom to two young boys. Her oldest son has a best friend who has dealt with childhood epilepsy for many years.