Dravet syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy, formerly known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI). Myoclonic seizures usually begin in childhood but can occur at any age in patients with Dravet syndrome.
What are myoclonic seizures?
A myoclonic seizure is characterized by a sudden brief muscle jerk that usually lasts for one or two seconds. However, myoclonic jerks are not always a seizure. Many people without epilepsy are sometimes woken up by a myoclonic jerk while falling asleep. This is normal and not a sign of epilepsy.
Individuals experiencing myoclonic seizures might have just a single seizure or many that might occur within a short period of time. During a myoclonic seizure, the person is conscious and aware of what is happening.
A prolonged period of frequent myoclonic seizures with little time between them is known as myoclonic status epilepticus.
Myoclonic seizure management
A single myoclonic seizure does not require any kind of first aid. However, status epilepticus is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
As soon as it becomes apparent that myoclonic seizures are repetitive and last for several minutes, an ambulance should be called. Rescue medicines can also help stop or shorten severe seizures.
Until the ambulance arrives, some first aid steps can help control the situation. It is essential to keep calm and stay with the person until the seizure is over. The individual should not be restrained in his or her movements. Removing nearby objects can help prevent injuries.
Similar to other types of seizures in Dravet syndrome, the frequency and severity of myoclonic seizures can be reduced by anticonvulsants. An EEG (electroencephalogram) can help monitor myoclonic seizures and assess how the patient responds to treatment.
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