Epilepsy is a type of brain disorder that causes seizures, or changes in normal brain activity that may come with physical effects. There are many types of epilepsy and many types of seizures. Sometimes, seizures look like staring spells. Other times, a seizure can cause a person to fall, shake or become confused. They usually last a few seconds to a few minutes. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain while focal or partial seizures affect just one part of the brain. For most people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. Some known causes include stroke, brain tumor, brain infection and head injury.
Learn more about epilepsy.
- Learn seizure first aid so you know how to help your child through a seizure.
- Find a doctor who specializes in epilepsy. Work with them to make a plan for controlling your child’s seizures.
- Make sure your child takes medication as prescribed. Set a timer to remind you or get a pill case to make it easy to track their dosages.
- Help your child take care of their overall health by making sure they get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet.
- Keep a record of your child’s seizures and seizure triggers so you can track patterns and learn how to avoid them.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about having epilepsy. Be prepared to answer their questions.
- Anti-epileptic medication
- Medications like gabapentin, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, levetiracetam or topiramate can help prevent seizures. Your child’s doctor can decide which medication is best for your child based on their age and symptoms.
- Note that these medications often come with side effects. Ask your child’s doctor if you have questions or concerns.
- Special diet
- A ketogenic diet, or a diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates and protein, could help your child have fewer seizures. Talk to your child’s doctor before changing their diet.
- Vagus nerve stimulation
- A small electrical device placed under the skin of the chest that is connected to the vagus nerve in the neck. Small electrical charges stimulate the nerve, which affects the part of the brain that causes seizures.
- Helps seizures happen less often and be less severe, but usually doesn’t stop them completely. Patients who use this treatment often also use anti-epileptic medication.
- For patients 4 and older.
- The battery for the device lasts about 10 years.
- Side effects include sore throat, cough and hoarseness during stimulation. These vary by person and can change over time.
- Brain surgery
- If other treatments aren't controlling your child’s seizures, surgery may be an option your child's doctor considers. Sometimes, seizures are caused by a small part of the brain that can be removed without serious side effects.
- Exploring this option will require your child to have multiple tests, like brain scans and tests on brain activity, memory, learning abilities and mental health.
Your child’s Care Manager can help connect you to services and supports for children with epilepsy. Here are some examples of benefits your child may qualify for:
- Nutritional Counseling: A healthy diet can help your child have fewer seizures. This service can help you learn what to feed them and how to introduce new foods.
- Grocery Assistance: Get up to $75 per quarter to buy healthy food items. Contact your child’s Care Manager about eligibility.
- Medication Management Services: Services to help you understand and make good choices about your child’s medications. Covered as medically necessary.
- Substance Use Health Coaching: Use of drugs and alcohol can cause more seizures. Members 12 and older can enroll in this program for help with substance use issues with a signed form by a parent/guardian. They will earn a $10 reward for completing three sessions with a Care Manager in three months.
- CMS School Specialist Program: Learn how to get your child the help they need at school by talking with a CMS School Specialist. Ask your child’s Care Manager for a referral.
Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline
Reach trained specialists who can answer questions about epilepsy and seizures, provide support and guidance, plus connect you to resources. Also find free online trainings about epilepsy, including a course on seizure first aid.
Epilepsy for Parents and Caregivers
Learn about caring for a child with epilepsy. Watch videos and personal accounts from others and learn how to talk to your child about their condition.
Family Retreats by Deliver the Dream
Sign up for a free weekend retreat for children and families living with chronic conditions, including epilepsy. Trips include therapeutic activities, discussion groups, interactive games and team-building exercises. Spend time relaxing and meeting others living with epilepsy.
Defeating Epilepsy Foundation
Find resources about epilepsy, like a seizure action plan and seizure first aid, available in English and Spanish. High school seniors and college students can also apply for a scholarship to help pay for educational expenses.
Contact your child’s Care Manager for more information about any of these resources. You can also call Member Services at 1-866-799-5321 (TTY 1-800-955-8770), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.