Brain Infections to Children – Symptoms and Care Instructions

The most common causes of brain infections are viruses. Febrile seizures, head trauma, and encephalitis are among such. Below are further information about those brain infections and more.

Stiff Body and Seizures

brain infection

If a febrile seizure appears during a fever, there is no need to worry too much. Every mom definitely will be concerned for the child if this happens.

Be calm and do not panic, presence of mind should be observed. Allow the child to lie down comfortably, loosen the clothing and maintain a peaceful atmosphere, in the majority of cases, there is no need to worry.

What is more concerning is a seizure without any fever. In this case, greater detail must be taken, noting down the time along with the nature and how severe the seizure is. This must be given to the doctor’s consideration. Sometimes, seizures occur after the baby has been strenuously crying which is an anger spasm and there is no need to worry.

Care Points

Remove Items that are Dangerous

When children are having seizure, immediately remove any dangerous items. Careful attention must be paid to identify any hazards to the child such as removing hair clips and loosening tight clothing. Don’t allow collars to choke the child’s throat. If there are any items of concern in the vicinity, it is best to move them away. During seizure, it is best to place a towel between the rear teeth to avoid biting of the tongue. After the seizure has ended, try to avoid the tongue curling up. It is best to lie flat but do not be too much force in doing this.

Avoid Unnecessary Irritants

If the child’s mouth is tightly shut and seems they are not breathing, some people out of fear will try to forcibly open the mouth. This should be avoided as much as possible so as not to make injury. When the child’s hands and feet are stiff, they are held tightly. Just let the seizure to pass without interruption.

Turn the Head to the Side and Lie Down

When a child had a seizure, loosen the clothing and place the head low. The neck and chest, especially, must be relaxed. If there is vomiting during seizure, turn the head to the side to avoid the vomit blocking the airway. Allow them to lie down comfortably and use an ice pillow or wet cloth to bring down the temperature.

Confirm Fever

If a seizure occurs, make sure to observe if there is any fever. The body temperature must be checked. If there is no fever, then it is a possible case of epilepsy. For children with febrile seizures, when the body temperature is raised, use your hand to gently press down to prevent seizure.

Duration of Seizure

Seizures will typically last 1-2 minutes. If after 5 minutes the seizure has not passed, prepare to seek hospital attention. If after 10 minutes the seizure does not subside, seek hospital treatment immediately. Pay careful attention to persistent seizures that will lead to breathing difficulties. When children are unconscious, holding them or rocking them is also dangerous as it may injure their neck. Pay close attention of how the head is positioned.

Do Not give Medicine or Water

When children have a seizure, it is a big no to give water or medicine. The medicine or water might enter the air pipe while unconscious. It may lead to aspiration pneumonitis or may result to worst complications.

Emergency Room

Unconscious or Seizure for over 20 minutes

If there is a seizure that lasts over 20 minutes, the body movement does not feel natural, has garbled speaking, or if there are 2 or more seizures in one day, epilepsy might be present so you should seek hospital treatment immediately.

If there is no fever or no breathing for over 1 minute, seizure occurred after a bump on the head resulting to the child unconsciousness, seek hospital attention immediately. It is important to take note of the conditions and should be relayed to the hospital staff. If it is a febrile seizure and length of seizure is long, and each time after a seizure occurred, the cause of the seizure must be ascertained.

Brain Infections include the following:

Febrile Seizures

Causes and Symptoms

Sudden irritation to brain cells can cause intermittent neurological disorders which can lead to high fever and result in a full body seizure. This condition is more common in a 6 months old baby up to 5 years old and typically appears around the toddler age which is 18-22 months. Possible causes are high fever restricting oxygen to the brain, brain swelling, dehydration and bacterial infection of the brain. Conditions leading to febrile seizures are 70% due to the common cold and others including pharyngitis, tonsillitis, otitis media (one kind of ear infections), gastroenteritis and sudden rash etc.

Typical symptoms are sudden high fever of over 38 degrees; the eyes will spin wildly or stay fixed. When unconscious, the whole body including hands and feet shakes and becomes stiff. The mouth will turn purple and will have lots of saliva and foaming. This situation will dissipate after 5 to 15 minutes. Basically after the seizure, the child will sleep peacefully. The heat then will reduce within the following 7-10 days and the brain waves seizure will return to normal. There is a 30% recurring rate for children under 1 year old that have suffered from this condition, over 50% of cases will have a reoccurrence in general.

Care Instructions

● The first step at the beginning of the seizure is to allow the child to lie down in a safe place, turn the head to one side to prevent asphyxiation from saliva or vomit.

● If medicine is forced into the child’s mouth, shaking or restraining the child while seizure is ongoing, or even grabbing the hands and feet will only cause the seizure to last longer.

● If a child who has a history of febrile seizures develops a high fever, an antipyretic should be taken immediately to reduce the fever. Avoid dehydration by frequently supplementing water intake.

● If a less than 12 months old baby suffered from seizures, an anticonvulsant can be taken guided by a doctor’s prescription. If there is a family history of epilepsy, have known that the seizure includes nerves having abnormalities or irregularities and the seizure lasts over 15 minutes, it is but proper to seek medical attention immediately.

Anger Spasms

Causes and Symptoms

This condition occurs mostly in children aged between 6 months and 6 years old. The symptoms normally appear if breathing is so hard that it causes the baby to cry. At times, after heavy crying, they are unable to control their temper thus leading to a seizure.

Children who are sensibly too stubborn are more likely to suffer from anger spasm as they are not able to express their anger – crying their heart out to the extent of seizures. This happens when crying blocks the esophagus and makes breathing difficult, causing lack of oxygen in the brain which leads to seizure. There are also some cases that whilst crying and the head is hurt such as being bumped, which in turn causes difficulty breathing, as such also results in a seizure.

Care Instructions

● Short seizures last within 1 minute, and though when compared with other seizures, there seems nothing to worry about. If the condition worsens, severe and frequent, these should be carefully noted to determine if hospital treatment is necessary.

● If anger spasms occur repeatedly, then seek advice from a pediatrician.

● If the seizure lasts for over 5 minutes, no strength after seizure, body moves abnormally, multiple seizures, and if there is a sudden seizure without fever, under the following circumstance, seek immediate hospital treatment.

● The significant causes of seizures are anger spasms, encephalitis, meningitis, epilepsy, tetanus or epidemic diarrhea.

Head Trauma

Causes and Symptoms

The cranium in children under 2 years old is still soft and the brain is still yet to fully mature. Receiving only a small concussion will lead to a severe tremor in the brain. Any concussion or irritation causing the brain to be damaged will also result in seizures. When the head suffers an impact, the baby will cry hysterically and if severe, may even vomit; eyes will also flutter and result in a seizure.

After the inner cranium gets damaged or if the brain’s nerves are injured, it will cause bleeding, epilepsy, and motor paralysis. Those can cause lifelong conditions. Due to abnormalities caused by head concussion, the eyes will severely shed blood, and there will be vomiting and difficulty in breathing etc. Seek hospital treatment immediately for an examination and treatment.

Care Instructions

● If the child has difficulty breathing, tilt the head backwards, allowing the esophagus to fully open. Lift the chin up for 3-5 seconds to check whether or not he/she is breathing.

● Even if consciousness is immediately regained, a physician’s attention is still required. No food or beverage should be consumed until consciousness is fully recovered.

● If a child bumps their head and has a seizure without the presence of fever, or if there is crying and vomiting, seek hospital attention immediately.

Encephalitis

Causes and Symptoms

The inflammation of the brain is a very serious condition. As the area that becomes inflamed differs, so then the subsequent effects also differ leading to a high mortality rate. Although there are many causes, typically it includes common cold, respiratory conditions and ear conditions such as otitis media.

Other causes include bacterial infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and mold which enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. Encephalitis has three main types: inflammatory, viral and hemorrhage type. The majority of viral-type encephalitis will heal naturally. Due to bacterial infection, the brain itself will become inflamed and may suffer serious damage. Although this condition is very difficult to fully heal, the after effects such as epilepsy, mental retardation or physical disabilities must be taken care of.

The cause of hemorrhage-type encephalitis is still not clear, but it has been thought it was possibly due to bacteria, chemical substances, or allergy causing damage to the veins in the brain. There will be headaches, dizziness, meaningless speech, unconsciousness, high fever and seizures.

Care Instructions

● This illness has a high mortality rate and is not possible to fully heal.

● Do your best to reduce the severeness of the after effects such as epilepsy, mental retardation, physical disabilities, etc. Try to help the child live a normal life.

Child Epilepsy

Causes and Symptoms

This is a type of nervous system disease as it is caused by abnormalities in the brain, leading to all different types of complications. Children will shout, cry and have seizures maybe multiple times in one day. This is the most commonly encountered nervous system disorders. The cause is possibly due to swelling of the brain, head injury, tetanus, pre-birth conditions, brain infections, or genetic, but there is an unclear cause in around 30% of sufferers. The majority of cases develop after birth.

When the condition starts to exhibit, children will regularly nod the head and forcefully throw the head forward and raise two hands high above the head and the limbs will twist. There are some that will hug the knees with both hands whilst fitting, or bow the head and lower the body; there will be loud moaning, crying, drooling and the face changes from green in color to whitish.

During the epileptic fit, the child may bite on the tongue or defecate. As the body recovers from being rigid to a normal state, the fit may once again re-emerge. After the seizure has passed, the four limbs will be weak. They will sleep for a few hours and will wake up with a headache.

Care Instructions

● Epilepsy is a life-long chronic illness. There will be sudden seizures and complications associated with seizures.

● After the first occurrence, hospital investigation is required to identify the cause, receive a physician’s diagnosis and treatment. Especially if during the adolescent years, the motor development and neurological development slows down. It may cause learning abnormalities which can cause difficulties in adulthood. So it is of utmost importance to identify the condition and treat it as soon as possible.

● Apart from intractable epilepsy, other types of epilepsy have a huge array of medicines available to treat and stabilize.

● At the beginning of an epileptic fit, loosen the clothing, lie down in a safe place, do not block the esophagus and turn the head to the side – the same process is true for those with a seizure.

Tetanus

Causes and Symptoms

The tetanus bacteria contained within mud enters the body, leading to neurological palsy or severe seizure. The body will become rigid with headache, chills and the hands and feet will be very painful. The infection rate is higher amongst boys under 4 years old with the majority occurring between 4-9 months old. Bacteria are mainly found in dirt, animal and human defecation, when pricked by rusty nails or when the wound or a burn becomes infected.

Incubation lasts between 3 days to 2 weeks before the symptoms appear. When the offending bacterium enters into the wound, it will release poison into the blood which will cause fatigue and lack of sleep. The mouth will become rigid and hard to open and the face, neck, back and abdomen will suffer muscle spasms. Stimulation such as a gentle touch, sound or light will cause the whole body to twist or the whole body to become rigid and cause a seizure. During forced seizures, the body will bend like an arch and twisted. The child will still be conscious, but the muscle and throat will be hypersensitive causing breath difficulty.

Care Instructions

● This is a very frightening disease with a mortality rate of between 30-50% so vaccinations are very important and can be administered together with the vaccine for whooping cough and polio.

● Vaccination should be administered in 3 doses 2-8 months after birth with 2 month intervals. Boosters should be given at 18 months old and 4-6 years old.

● If children become injured whilst playing, the wound must be disinfected and cleaned and go to the hospital for proper treatment.

● It is easy for children to become hurt during play time. There are cases where the initial symptoms are light or even completely healed when the condition suddenly worsens. This condition must be observed closely. Tetanus vaccination is very important.

Now those are the brain infections that any child may have. Be sure to always observe your child for any unusual behavior and perform the care instructions specified here as your guide.

Stephanie
 

Editor in Babiology, mother of two, highly passionate about sharing the pregnancy care and post delivery care learning with the readers.

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