Was That a Seizure?

Seizures can last a few seconds up to a few minutes. However, when you suspect your child is experiencing one, it can feel like a lifetime.

Seizures may be more common than you think. One in 10 people will experience a seizure in their lifetime. Seizures can be caused by a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, fevers, brain injuries, infections, brain damage and tumors. Sometimes there is no known cause of a seizure.

Identifying seizures in children can be challenging, as many symptoms of seizures may look like everyday actions, and if they are young, a child may not be able to vocalize what or how they are feeling.

Symptoms of Seizures in Children

Symptoms of seizures in children include:

  1. Eyes twitching
  2. Hiccups
  3. Slipping of the eyes
  4. Zoning out, memory gaps or mumbling
  5. Unusual clumsiness
  6. Unusual, repeated head nodding or rapid blinking
  7. Uncontrolled peeing or pooping

Noticing Patterns in Symptoms

Did I just witness a seizure?

Many signs of seizures in children can be normal behaviors and may not indicate seizure activity. Identifying reoccurrences in symptoms may help determine if a seizure occurred and if further testing is needed.

For example, if you notice your child’s eyes are slipping to the side, do they always slip in the same direction? Make a note of any patterns to discuss with your child’s pediatrician. When you or a loved one sees a reoccurring pattern:

  1. Jot down the symptom, the duration of the symptom and the date
  2. If possible, and with consent, record the child when they are experiencing the symptom. This may help a neurologist identify the type of seizure. 
  3. Ask other caregivers, such as a teacher or babysitter, to watch out for repeated behaviors.

It Takes a Community

If a pediatrician suspects seizure activity, he may write a referral for your child to visit a neurologist. A neurologist may order a diagnostic test, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) or epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU), to scan your child’s brain waves for unusual activity.

It is important to note that experiencing one seizure does not mean a child has epilepsy, which is a condition defined as having two or more unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy is diagnosed and managed by a neurologist.

Trust Your Gut

As a parent or a caregiver, you know your child. If you suspect your child may be experiencing seizures, ask your pediatrician for guidance or request to see our neurologists for a second opinion.


American Academy of Neurology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Epilepsy Foundation
World Health Organization