17th April 2023
Paediatricians have warned parents to desist from restraining their children or forcing objects into their mouths during seizures.
The experts said engaging in such harmful practices does not stop the medical condition, but are rather dangerous and could cause a child life-threatening harm.
Over the years, there have been misconceptions surrounding how seizures in children should be handled at home, with parents and guardians coming up with unorthodox means to stop seizures.
However, medical experts have described such means as obsolete, especially the myth hinged on the fact that a spoon must be forced into the mouth of a child having seizure to stop the tongue from sliding into the stomach.
According to them, it is a myth without any scientific backing.
While noting that it is dangerous to put objects like a spoon or finger, among others in the mouth of children experiencing seizures, the experts also stressed that the medical condition is not transmissible from person-to-person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that approximately one in ten people may have a seizure at some point in their lives.
It also noted that most seizures don’t require emergency medical assistance, stressing that 19 out of 20 seizures come to an end in just two to three minutes.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the experts, a Consultant Paediatrician at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Prof. John Okeniyi, and his counterpart, a Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Dr. Bukola Sayomi, both stressed that home attempts at aborting seizures could be injurious to children.
Prof. Okeniyi explained that some seizures could arise due to infections of tissues in the nervous system.
He noted that children can also have convulsion when there is low levels of glucose in the bloodstream.
Prof. Okeniyi, who is also the Head of Department, Paediatrics and Child Health, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said that seizures can be the aftermath or complications of past adversities, such as brain injury, head trauma, failure to initiate breathing early enough at birth and severe jaundice in babies, among other factors.
He said, “Seizures are abnormal electrical brain activities and convulsions are the physical motor manifestations of such abnormal brain activities.
“The person having seizures lack awareness of the events and may lose control of bodily functions such as urination and defecation. When quizzed, those of age may not remember the events either.
“This means that seizures can also manifest as non-physical autonomic features such as the person seeing, smelling or hearing things that are unreal. These may include abnormal cries, excessive sweating, salivation and forming of tears, and “somatization” of symptoms e.g., a headache and abdominal pain.
“Seizures can be very terrifying to any eyewitness, particularly a parent. In this part of the world, many people have held on to an erroneous belief that once the mouth of a person having a seizure is closed and the teeth clenched, the person will die.
“This is not true. So, the person around acts out of love and ignorance to prevent such clenching by forcibly using any available object, such as a metal spoon to wedge the teeth. These acts worsen the situation as they can inflict injuries, removal and at times swallowing of teeth, or worse, aspiration of such teeth or vomit into the airway and lungs. This can inadvertently hurt or kill such a child.”