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Children's Health

Can stress bring on a mini seizure in my kid?

04/07/2009

Question:

My daughter (11yrs) was going for her yearly shots last year and she got herself so worked up about the needles that after she got the 3 shots,her eyes rolled back in her head and her arms tightened up and her legs sort of cramped up, she went out for about 20 seconds and then awoke as if nothing happened and said she was sleeping and had a long dream. She also wet her pants. Then since then she says that sometimes at night while laying in bed and now more often her eyes feel like they are moving back and forth really fast from left to right for a few seconds and then she gets a head ache.. So we mention it this year to her doc as they have been becoming more frequent. The doctor orders bloodwork cuz shes not growing enough like she thinks she should. On the way to the lab to get bloodwork, she got worked up again and her arms tightened up towards her chest and legs bent up and her eyes rolled again not totally closing all the way and then within about 20 seconds she awoke and said she had a lil dream again. I took her to eye doctor per ped. request and all was fine.. she didnt see anything wrong.. Im wondering is she just passing out gettin so stressed or is she throwing herself in a seizure and are these lil episodes of shaky eyes mini seizures?

Answer:

It is difficult without the ability to examine her and evaluate her medical history to make any diagnosis.  What you are describing is consistent with a vasovagal reactions which can be caused by stress, anxiety, exposure to heat, prolonged standing or blood drawing.  It leads to vasodilation and slowing of the heart rate, which causes the blood pressure to drop and can even cause fainting.  Most vasovagal reactions occur in otherwise healthy people and are generally harmless.

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati