Parents of children with epilepsy always worry about their child having a seizure. The Covid-19 Pandemic has only added to their worries. While there is no evidence that having epilepsy can make an individual more prone to catching the Corona Virus or having more severe Covid symptoms, children (and adults) who have other conditions alongside their epilepsy could be more prone to contracting the virus.
Even without having other illnesses, those with epilepsy are more likely to have a seizure when they are sick. Fever, one of the symptoms of Covid-19 can trigger a seizure, which is why it is important to keep children with epilepsy safe during this time, especially with the opening of schools.
ARE ALL CHILDREN WITH EPILEPSY AT RISK?
A child who has well-controlled epilepsy and no other health issues is not at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than a child without epilepsy. However, a small group of children with epilepsy may be at a higher risk. These are:
- Children with uncontrolled epilepsy who experience frequent seizures and are under several anti-epileptic medications, as some of these medicines may affect the immune system
- Children who have difficulty coughing and swallowing have a higher chance of getting a chest infection.
So with the opening of schools, what are some of the precautions you can take? And if your child’s school has chosen to opt for online classes this year, do you need to be doing do something different to care for your child at home?
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE IF YOUR CHILD HAS ONLINE SCHOOL:
Children have already been confined to their homes for over 6 months, and with that, their daily schedules have stretched to include irregular sleeping and waking up patterns. With many schools opting to have online schooling, their schedules may have changed yet again. This may result in delays in taking regular medication, lack of a good nights’ sleep and lack of physical exercise, for starters. Proper meal times, timely medication and sleeping at a fixed time every night are simple precautions you can take at home. Family and loved ones should be prepared and know the appropriate first-aid to be given in case of a seizure.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE IF YOUR CHILD IS ATTENDING REGULAR SCHOOL
Children who do attend regular school; are excited about meeting their friends, don’t understand the importance of social distancing, and it’s hard to get them to wear a mask for several hours a day, every day. Still, it is important to keep reminding your child of the importance of washing/sanitizing their hands frequently, social distancing, sneezing/coughing into a tissue etc. Check their temperatures before sending them to school every morning.
Seizure management needs have not changed due to Covid-19, but what has to be looked at is the safety of the first responder and the encouragement of taking preventative measures against Covid-19 to protect both, responder and child. Talk to your school representatives to ensure that in case of a seizure, the responder is wearing a mask and have sanitized their hands.
STAY IN CONTACT WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Doctors have been overwhelmed due to the pandemic and for you, as a parent of a child with epilepsy, that means infrequent office visits. Many doctors and neurologists are available for video or telephonic consultations (also called Telehealth or Telemedicine). Apps like Inspyre by Smart Monitor record the audio and track intensity of seizures when they occur; these can be easily shared with your doctor prior to or during a video consultation.
Lastly, encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you and their teachers. Every child may have different reactions to stress and may not understand the seriousness of the pandemic. Be patient and understanding.