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Partial vs. Generalized Seizures In Children

Tonic clonic seizures formerly known as grand mal seizures can be a result from an abnormal electrical activity in the entire brain, while absence seizures or petit mal seizures happen due to an abnormal electrical activity of certain neurons in the brain. Both types of seizure disorders can happen to children, and both seizure disorders can cause life-threatening events not just in children, but to all people suffering from the said seizure disorders.

What Happens In Tonic/Clonic Or Grand Mal Seizures Of Children?

Grand mal seizures or tonic-clonic seizures are a type of seizure disorder that is usually associated with epilepsy. In children it happens in different phases:

  1. The child experiences loss of alertness and becomes unconscious later.
  2. Loss of consciousness is then followed by tonic-clonic seizures (involuntary repeated contraction and relaxation of muscles).
  3. As a result of the contraction and relaxation of muscles, the whole body of the child shakes rapidly.

Seizure activity of children usually lasts for no more than 2 minutes. Even though the seizure activity is over, the child may still be unconscious for several minutes more. Once the child regains consciousness, he or she will appear confused, tired, sleepy, and/or scared.

What Happens In Absence Or Petit Mal Seizures in Children?

Petit Mal Seizures in Children

Petit mal seizures in both children and adults are considered to be milder or less severe than grand mal seizures, when it comes to its signs and symptoms.

Usually, an episode of petit mal seizure involves a short and sudden absence of consciousness. Children during an episode of petit mal seizure may appear staring. However, petit mal seizure symptoms may also include:

  • Lip smacking
  • Fluttering eyelids
  • Chewing
  • Involuntary hand movements.

Differences Between The Two

Compared to an episode of grand mal seizure that can last for several minutes, petit mal seizure in children will only usually last for only a few seconds and recovery of the patient is instant. In children, petit mal seizures usually happen while they are sitting or they are not doing anything, rather than they are in the middle of an activity.

Safety for Grand Mal Seizures and Petit Mal Seizures

For both seizure disorders in children, it is very important to keep children safe all the time.

For petit mal seizure, it is rare for children to lose consciousness, however, parents or guardians should be cautious and aware that petit mal seizures can cause life-threatening situations, such as while the child is swimming. Risk of drowning is increased during an episode of petit mal seizure.

For grand mal seizures, since it causes a child to lose consciousness, just make sure that the child is safe from any sharp objects and the head is away from hard objects and if possible, place a soft pillow underneath the child’s head. Never force anything inside the mouth (spoon, tongue depressor, etc) during an attack of grand mal seizures.

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