Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Convulsions

Questions and Answers

My brother goes to a lot of clubs.
Can convulsions be brought on by
the flickering lights?

Yes. Many people cannot tolerate
the strobe lights in clubs, since
the frequency of the flicker
induces a type of temporary short
circuit in their brains. This causes
the brain to assume a particular
frequency of brain wave, which
brings on a seizure. However, if
your brother is susceptible, he will
have been affected by now.

My toddler has temper tantrums.
Could these bring on convulsions?

Convulsions can be triggered by a
severe temper tantrum. Breath-
holding is a sign of this—the child
appears to be holding his or her
breath deliberately, inducing
unconsciousness and convulsions.
Despite appearances, they are
rarely serious, and you must just
wait for the symptoms to abate.

I suffer from convulsions. Is it safe
for me to drive?

There is the possibility of a seizure
while driving; also the side effects
of some drugs slow reactions.

For these reasons, people who
need drugs to control convulsions
should neither drive nor operate
hazardous machinery. Two
seizure-free years without
medication generally indicate an
adequately controlled case, but
laws concerning driving vary from
state to state.

Is it true that some foods and
drugs can bring on convulsions?

Allergies to certain foods may
bring on a form of convulsion,
although such reactions are rare.
Convulsions may also be a
symptom of food poisoning.
Certain drugs may cause
convulsions if given in improper
doses or to susceptible patients.

Convulsions can have a number of causes, including epilepsy, a reaction to
a high fever, and poisoning. Remaining with the patient, staying calm, and
performing simple first aid can do a lot to help
.

The most common cause of convulsions in infants and young children is a fever or sudden rise in temperature. This type of convulsion is known as a febrile convulsion, and it is unlikely to occur after age five. During a febrile convulsion the head and body will jerk, the eyes will roll, and the child may hold his or her breath. The legs and arms may stiffen and the back arches. The treatment is to lower the child’s temperature by sponging him or her with tepid water, and to protect the child from injury by placing rolled towels around him or her. The child must not be cooled too much and as soon as his or her temperature is normal (g8.6°F/37°C), cooling should be stopped.

Stay with a person until the seizure
stops, then place him or her in the
recovery position and get help
.


Epileptic seizures

An epileptic seizure is a major electrical disturbance in the brain that results in loss of control and muscle spasms. The person becomes unconscious and falls down. He or she may twitch uncontrollably and writhe and shake. The eyes roll upward, breathing becomes labored, and there is sometimes frothing at the mouth. His or her teeth may be clenched violently, and if the tongue is in the way, it may be badly bitten. Spontaneous emptying of the bladder or bowels may also occur. Such convulsions last only a few minutes, and afterward the sufferer falls asleep, perhaps after briefly recovering consciousness. Epileptic seizures can affect either specific parts of the body or both consciousness and muscle function. If a person has an epileptic seizure, he or she should not be left alone to call for help—the attack will last for only a short while. Bystanders should ensure that the victim’s head is protected and that tight clothing around the neck is loosened. Once the convulsion is finished, the victim should be placed in the recovery position (see Epilepsy).


Other types of convulsions

In a newborn baby, convulsions may be caused by brain damage or central nervous system disorders; epilepsy is a likely cause. Convulsions can also arise from occupational hazards such as poisoning from lead or mercury. Very low blood sugar levels can trigger a convulsion caused by an imbalance between insulin and food intake. People who drink heavily over a long period or who are trying to give up drinking alcohol are also prone to convulsions.


Dangers and first aid

In addition to the possibility of biting the tongue, injury can result from falling onto a hard object or striking furniture while writhing on the floor. If possible, place a small pad, such as a folded handkerchief, between the victim’s teeth. If the teeth are clamped shut, they should not be forced open, and fingers should be kept out of the person’s mouth. Serious complications and possibly death can result if the person vomits and chokes, or inhales vomit into the lungs. If there is vomiting, the head must be turned to one side so that the person does not choke. If a convulsion occurs when a person is driving or using machinery, the consequences could be fatal. When he or she comes to or falls asleep, call a doctor immediately.

See also:Breath holding; Fevers; Food
poisoning; Nervous
system; Poisoning;
Temperature; Unconsciousness

-413-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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