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Epileptic Seizures
June 2003

Q. My 6-year-old daughter has episodes where her heart rate gets really high and she gets very tired or she faints. She has only had about 5 of these episodes in the last year and they first started about a year ago. A doctor ordered some tests and the EEG came back abnormal. We then went to a nuerologist who said she has epilepsy and put her on Depokote.

How do I know for sure that she is having seizures or that she has epilepsy? I am worried about her taking this medicine and I also wonder why she started having seizures in the first place. Should all of my children have an EEG done? My 4-year-old son has hearing, speech, and vision problems. Can you help?

A. Epilepsy is a condition in which a group of nerve cells in the brain discharge spontaneously. The effects depend on the area of the brain involved; these events can cause limited effects such as a period of confusion, a localized area of muscle spasm or jerking, or generalized motor activity usually called a grand mal seizure.

A fairly common occurrence in childhood is a febrile seizure, meaning a seizure occurs during a time when the child is ill and runs a fever. The description you give does not fit this picture however. Since the first symptom is that of rapid heart rate, I would think evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist would be helpful. Some abnormality of the heart anatomy or the heart electrical activity may lead to treatment if such a diagnosis is established.



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