Although the sun has been quite scorching and temperature low, especially in the evenings, making many people to be indoors so as to keep warm. To avoid coming down with health conditions such as cold associated with this type of weather, medical experts have advised that necessary precautions be taken.

Children are especially vulnerable, as they easily succumb to certain ailments brought about by the weather. So, parents have been advised to ensure their children are well cared for, to protect against common cold.

To avoid the discomfort instigated by these ailments, some of the recommended safety measures include eating healthy foods that contain lots of vitamins, going to bed early, as well as wearing appropriate and comfortable clothes.

Former President, Association of Resident Doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Olubunmi Omojowolo, said common cold could be diagnosed by certain symptoms.

He said: “If your doctor suspects you have a bacterial infection or other condition, he or she may order a chest x-ray or other tests to exclude other causes of the signs and symptoms. Commonly used cold remedies include pain relievers.

“For a fever, sore throat and headache, many people turn to acetaminophen, tylenol, or other mild pain relievers. Acetaminophen should be used for the shortest time possible, and people should follow label directions to avoid side effects.

“It is important to use caution, when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin, which has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition in children.

“Consider giving your child over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications designed for infants or children. These include acetaminophen, children’s Tylenol, ibuprofen, children’s Advil and children’s Motrin, among others, to ease symptoms.

“Adults can use decongestant drops or sprays for up to five days, as prolonged use could cause rebound symptoms. Children younger than six years should not use decongestant drops or sprays.”

A Family Physician, Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly kick against giving OTC cough and cold medicines to children younger than four years, as they may be harmful.

He said: “There is no good evidence that these remedies are beneficial or safe for children. It is not typically recommended that you give cough or cold medicines to an older child, but if you do, follow the label directions. Do not give your child two medicines with the same active ingredient, such as an antihistamine, decongestant or pain reliever.

“Too much of a single ingredient could lead to an accidental overdose.

You may know that cold and flu season is here with us, but that does not make it easier, when you see your little one struggling with a cough and stuffy nose. Children under the age of five, and particularly under two years are, at high risk during cold and flu season.”

He explained that colds and flus are viral infections. And antibiotics won’t help to clear up infection. However, there are steps that can be taken to help children feel better, while their immune system battles the virus.

He said: “Keep your child hydrated to help reduce cold and flu symptoms, and make them feel better. Fever can result in dehydration. Your child may not feel as thirsty as, he or she normally would, and may be uncomfortable when drinking. So, it’s important to encourage him or her to drink plenty of fluids.

“Dehydration can be very serious in babies, especially if they’re under three months. Call your pediatrician, if you suspect your baby is dehydrated. Some signs may include no tears when crying, dry lips, soft spots that seem sunken in, decreased activity and urinating less than three to four times in 24 hours.

“Attempt to breastfeed infants more frequently than usual. Babies may be less interested in breastfeeding, if they’re sick. So, you may have to give several short feeding sessions for them to consume enough fluid.

“Ask the doctor if an oral rehydration solution like pedialyte is appropriate. Remember that you should not give little ones sports drinks. Older children have more hydration options, which may include sports drinks, popsicles, juice, broth and flat white soda.”

According to him, medicated nasal sprays are not recommended for young children. However, there are several easy ways to clear up a stuffy nose without medication.

“Use a cool mist humidifier in the child’s room,” he said. “This will help break up mucus. Be sure to carefully clean the humidifier between uses to keep mould from developing in the machine.

“Another option is using a saline nasal spray or drops, which make thin mucus easier to blow out or remove with a bulb syringe. This is especially helpful before feeding and bedtime.”

Encephalitis is a rare condition that is most often caused by viruses (viral encephalitis). It can also be caused by non-infectious diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematous and Behcet’s disease (an autoimmune disorder). The leading cause of severe encephalitis is the herpes simplex virus.

Other causes include enterovirus infections or mosquito-borne viruses; Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE); Western equine encephalitis (WEE); Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE); Japanese encephalitis; and Zika virus.

The very young and the elderly are more likely to have more severe encephalitis.

Exposure to viruses can occur through breathing in respiratory droplets from infected people, certain insect bites, and direct skin contact.

What are encephalitis symptoms and signs?
The signs and symptoms of encephalitis can range from very mild flu-like symptoms to potentially life-threatening events. Signs and symptoms of encephalitis include sudden fever, headache, vomiting, visual sensitivity to light, stiff neck and back, confusion, drowsiness, unsteady gait, irritability, loss of consciousness, poor responsiveness, seizures, muscle weakness, sudden severe dementia, and memory loss.

How do health care professionals diagnose encephalitis?
A health care professional diagnoses encephalitis after performing a thorough history and exam. The exam will incorporate special techniques to look for signs of inflammation of the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain (meninges). The doctor will order specific tests to help determine the diagnosis.

Tests that evaluate individuals suspected of having encephalitis include cerebrospinal fluid analysis, brain scanning such as computerized tomography scan (CT or CAT scan)/ Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and an evaluation of the blood for infection and the presence of bacteria.

The most common method of obtaining a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (or CSF) for examination is a spinal tap. A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture (LP), involves the insertion of a needle into the fluid within the spinal canal. The needle goes between the spine’s bony parts until it reaches the CSF. A medical professional then collects a small amount of fluid to send to the laboratory for an exam.

Evaluating the CSF is necessary for a definitive diagnosis of encephalitis and to decide on the best treatment options.

Abnormal spinal fluid results confirm the diagnosis and, in the event of an infection, by identifying the organism that caused the infection.

What is the treatment of encephalitis?
People require urgent treatment with antibiotics and/or antiviral medications if a physician suspects that person has encephalitis. Patients may need to take sedatives for irritability or restlessness. Doctors may administer other medications to decrease fever or treat headaches.

Basic steps to avoid the spread of infections (handwashing, covering mouth when coughing, etc.) can help prevent encephalitis.

*Dr. Nwaoney is an epidemiologist, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Medical Director of Richie Hospital and El Shaddai Group.

Photo Taken In Oradea, Romania

A new study has identified how ketamine can combat difficult-to-treat depression.

New research has revealed the specific parts of the brain that ketamine affects when doctors use it to treat people with difficult-to-treat depression.

The study, which appears in the journal Translational Psychiatry, may open the door to new therapies in the treatment of depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, about 7.6% of people over the age of 12 have depression during any 2-week period. The CDC describe depression as a sad mood that extends for a long period and affects a person’s ability to live a normal life.

When severe, depression can have a serious negative effect on a person’s life, sometimes leading to suicidal thoughts.

Experts do not fully understand why some people experience depression, although the National Institute of Mental Health suggest that genetic, environmental, biological, and psychological factors may play a role. It is treatable with medication, psychological therapy, or a combination of the two.

Previous research has made it clear that the drug ketamine can be an effective antidepressant, and some scientists have proposed it as a treatment in cases of depression that do not respond to conventional treatments.

However, precisely how and why ketamine functions as an antidepressant is less clear. As a consequence, the authors of the present study wanted to identify precisely what effects ketamine has on the brain of a person who is not responding to conventional treatments. They hope that this research may lead to better treatment options for these individuals.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.

Looking at ketamine’s effect in the brain

To do this, the researchers gave participants doses of ketamine that were low enough not to have an anesthetic effect and then took images of their brains using a positron emission tomography (PET) camera.

According to the study’s first author, Dr. Mikael Tiger, a researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, “In this, the largest PET study of its kind in the world, we wanted to look at not only the magnitude of the effect but also if ketamine acts via serotonin 1B receptors.”

“We and another research team were previously able to show a low density of serotonin 1B receptors in the brains of people with depression.”

By using a radioactive marker that binds to a person’s serotonin receptors, the PET images could highlight what effects ketamine was having on these receptors, which play a crucial role in depression by modulating the amount of serotonin that a person receives. Experts believe that low levels of serotonin correlate to more severe experiences of depression.

The authors of the study recruited people through internet advertising. After receiving 832 volunteers, the authors reduced this number to 30 to make sure that the participants were as relevant to the study as possible.

Other than having major depressive disorder (MDD), the participants were healthy. They had not responded to previous treatment for MDD.

The researchers split the participants into two groups, treating 20 people with ketamine and the other 10 with a placebo.

The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, meaning that neither the doctors nor the participants initially knew to which group each participant belonged.

Prior to the treatment, the researchers took a baseline scan of the participants’ brains. They took a second scan in the days following the treatment.

For the second phase of the study, 29 of the participants agreed to take ketamine twice a week for 2 weeks.

Serotonin reduced, dopamine increased

Using a rating scale for depression, the researchers found that 70% of the participants in the second phase of the study responded to the ketamine.

Furthermore, after analyzing the PET images, the authors found that the ketamine was affecting the participants’ brains in a previously unidentified manner, reducing the output of serotonin but increasing the output of dopamine, which is also important for mood regulation.

According to the last author of the study, Dr. Johan Lundberg, research group leader at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, “We show for the first time that ketamine treatment increases the number of serotonin 1B receptors.”

“Ketamine has the advantage of being very rapid-acting, but at the same time, it is a narcotic-classed drug that can lead to addiction. So it’ll be interesting to examine in future studies if this receptor can be a target for new, effective drugs that don’t have the adverse effects of ketamine.”

– Dr. Johan Lundberg

Does catarrh show any symptoms?
CATARRH itself is a symptom, not a disease. Symptoms are pointers to a disease process occurring in the living body. Catarrh is a symptom of an allergy or a respiratory tract infection, not the other way around. Other symptoms that might accompany catarrh are fever, sore throat, cough and headaches.

What causes catarrh?
IT is commonly caused by a self-limiting virus (common cold virus), which might just run its course and might require no treatment. It could be caused by the bacteria affecting the sinuses (air spaces) within the skull. It could also build up as a response to allergens (things that provoke an allergic reaction). In other words, it could be a result of allergies. Examples of allergens are pollen grains, dust and dust mites, smoke, animal danders, strong perfumes and even some food.

What are the treatments?
Catarrh usually runs its course without treatment. However, if the condition persists longer than expected (well over three weeks), you should probably see your doctor. If it is caused by the common virus, you might require no serious treatment. If caused by a more serious bacterial infection, your doctor would place you on appropriate antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and anti-allergies.

If caused by allergies, your doctor would place you on anti-allergies and anti-inflammatories. Vitamin C is also a very important ingredient. Please note that some of these cases might require surgery, as it could be a pointer to something more sinister. Recurrent catarrh, drooling and sore throat in a child less than five years could be a result of massive tonsillitis, adenoiditis, or even a congenital respiratory or heart problem.

Are there home remedies for catarrh?
There are countless home remedies for catarrh. It all depends on tradition and the part of the world you find yourself. Note, however, that none is superior. People having catarrh should drink a lot of clean water to stay hydrated. They should avoid undue exposure to cold. Rather, they might take something hot (hot tea, hot chocolate or soup, and not alcohol) or something minty to clear the sinuses.

Harmattan is a season to expect more asthmatic attacks, because dust, a major component of the season is notorious for aggravating allergic reactions as we have in asthmatics. Nose bleeding is not left out this season. Mild trauma to the nose could unleash a scary amount of nose bleeding. This is as a result of the friable (fragile) blood vessels within the nose, which become extra thin during the harmattan season and ready to bleed on contact. This nose bleed can just be stopped by plugging the nostril(s) with cotton wool and elevating the head. The skin is usually very dry and thin this season, making it very prone to abrasions and bruises. So, people should ensure they keep their skin moist.

It is advised to dress appropriately this season to avoid unnecessary respiratory tract infections and allergies. Asthmatics should walk around with their inhalers. But if symptoms persist despite home remedies, then visit your doctor.

Brain atrophy refers to a loss of brain cells or a loss in the number of connections between brain cells. People who experience brain atrophy typically develop poorer cognitive functioning as a result of this type of brain damage.

There are two main types of brain atrophy: focal atrophy, which occurs in specific brain regions, and generalized atrophy, which occurs across the brain.

Brain atrophy can occur as a result of the natural aging process. Other causes include injury, infections, and certain underlying medical conditions.

This article describes the symptoms and causes of brain atrophy. It also outlines the treatment options available in each case, as well as the outlook.


Brain atrophy can affect one or multiple regions of the brain.

The symptoms will vary depending on the location of the atrophy and its severity.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Conditions and Stroke, brain atrophy can cause the following symptoms and conditions:


A seizure is a sudden, abnormal spike of electrical activity in the brain. There are two main types of seizure. One is the partial seizure, which affects just one part of the brain. The other is the generalized seizure, which affects both sides of the brain.

The symptoms of a seizure depend on which part of the brain it affects. Some people may not experience any noticeable symptoms, whereas others may experience one or more of the following:

  • behavioral changes
  • jerking eye movements
  • a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • teeth clenching
  • grunting and snorting
  • muscle spasms
  • convulsions
  • loss of consciousness


The term aphasia refers to a group of symptoms that affect a person’s ability to communicate. Some types of aphasia can affect a person’s ability to produce or understand speech. Others can affect a person’s ability to read or write.

According to the National Aphasia Association, there are eight different types of aphasia. The type of aphasia a person experiences depends on the part or parts of the brain that sustain damage.

Some cases of aphasia are relatively mild, whereas others may severely impair a person’s ability to communicate.


Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms associated with a continuing decline in brain function. These symptoms may include:

  • memory loss
  • slowed thinking
  • language problems
  • problems with movement and coordination
  • poor judgment
  • mood disturbances
  • loss of empathy
  • hallucinations
  • difficulty carrying out daily activities

There are several different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

A person’s risk of dementia increases with age, with most cases affecting people aged 65 years and older. However, experts do not consider it to be a natural part of the aging process.


Brain atrophy can occur as a result of injury, either from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a stroke. It may also occur as a result of one of the following:

  • encephalitis
  • neurosyphilis
  • HIV

In some cases, brain atrophy may occur as a result of a chronic disorder or condition, such as:

  • cerebral palsy
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Pick’s disease
  • mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, which are a group of disorders that affect the nervous system
  • leukodystrophies, which are a group of rare genetic conditions affecting the nervous system


When diagnosing brain atrophy, a doctor may begin by taking a full medical history and asking about a person’s symptoms. This may include asking questions about when the symptoms began and if there was an event that triggered them.

The doctor may also carry out language or memory tests, or other specific tests of brain function.

If they suspect that a person has brain atrophy, they will need to locate the brain damage and assess its severity. This will require an MRI or CT scan.


The treatment options for brain atrophy will vary depending on its location, severity, and cause. The following sections list some treatment options by cause.


Brain atrophy can occur as a long-term consequence of an injury. In these cases, treatment tends to focus on helping the surrounding brain issue heal over time.

Brain injuries typically require a rehabilitation period that may involve one or more of the following:

  • physical therapy
  • speech therapy
  • counseling


Medications will be necessary to treat infections that result in brain inflammation or atrophy.

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections and antiviral medications to treat viral infections. These medications will help fight the infection and alleviate the symptoms.

Disorders and conditions

Several disorders and conditions can lead to brain atrophy. Many of these conditions currently have no cure, so treatment generally focuses on managing the symptoms.

Treatment may involve a combination of medications and therapies such as occupational or speech therapy. These therapies may be necessary to help a person regain brain function or learn strategies to help them cope.

Some conditions, such as MS, cause symptoms to occur in cycles. A person’s doctor or healthcare team will adapt their treatment plan accordingly if this is the case.

Is it possible to reverse brain atrophy?

Until recently, many scientists considered the brain to be a relatively unchanging organ. However, research is increasingly showing how the brain adapts its structure and functioning throughout life.

It is currently unclear whether or not it is possible to reverse brain atrophy. However, the brain may alter how it works to compensate for damage. In some cases, this may be enough to restore functioning over time.

Exercise for brain atrophy

2011 review suggests that regular exercise could slow or even reverse brain atrophy related to aging or dementia.

However, one 2018 study found that high intensity exercise and strength training did not slow cognitive impairment in people with mild-to-moderate dementia. Additional research is therefore necessary to determine what effect, if any, exercise has on preventing or reversing brain atrophy due to dementia.

Drugs to reverse brain atrophy

Scientists are currently working to develop drugs that can reverse brain atrophy. For example, one 2019 study investigated whether or not the dementia drug donepezil could reverse alcohol-induced brain atrophy in rats.

The researchers found that the rats they treated with donepezil experienced a reduction in brain inflammation and showed an increased number of new brain cells. However, it was not clear if donepezil would have similar effects on brain atrophy resulting from causes other than alcohol-induced damage.

It is also not clear whether or not the same effects would occur in humans. Clinical trials involving human participants are necessary.


The outlook for brain atrophy varies depending on the location and extent of the damage, as well as its underlying cause. For people with mild cases, there may be few long-term consequences.

When brain atrophy occurs due to a disease or condition, however, symptoms may worsen over time. Long-term treatments and therapies can help slow this process and help a person manage any resulting cognitive impairments.

For injuries such as TBI and stroke, receiving immediate and effective care can significantly improve the outlook.


Brain atrophy refers to a loss of neurons within the brain or a loss in the number of connections between the neurons. This loss may be the result of an injury, infection, or underlying health condition.

Mild cases of brain atrophy may have little effect on daily functioning. However, brain atrophy can sometimes lead to symptoms such as seizures, aphasia, and dementia. Severe damage can be life threatening.

A person should see a doctor if they experience any symptoms of brain atrophy. The doctor will work to diagnose the cause of the atrophy and recommend appropriate treatments.

Many people with uterine fibroids have no symptoms, but others may experience pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding. For some people living with fibroids, the pain is intense enough to interfere with daily life.

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form inside the uterus. They can grow quite large and cause pain and pressure.

Fibroid pain usually occurs in the lower back or pelvis. Some people also experience stomach discomfort, intense cramps when menstruating, or pain during intercourse.

Easing the pain at home

There is little evidence that home remedies can ease fibroid pain. However, there are a few methods that people can try.

These include:

  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • using heating pads
  • practicing yoga or stretching
  • doing gentle exercise
  • eating a healthful diet

Some people may be interested in trying herbal remedies to shrink the fibroids and ease the pain. A 2013 Cochrane review analyzed previous research on the use of common herbal remedies — including Tripterygium wilfordii and Guizhi Fuling — to treat fibroids and their symptoms.

The researchers concluded that the quality of the data in the reviewed studies was insufficient to support the use of these herbal remedies.

Making lifestyle changes may be a more effective way for people to ease their fibroid pain.


A person can take medication to help ease fibroid pain. However, medication will not cure fibroids, and a person may require surgery later on.

These types of drugs may help ease fibroid symptoms:

  • Birth control pills: These can help reduce period pain. They may also make periods lighter, but they will not shrink fibroids.
  • A hormonal intrauterine device (IUD): This device releases progestin, which can help with painful, heavy periods but will not shrink fibroids.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: These drugs counteract the effect of the hormones that regulate a person’s period. They can stop monthly bleeding and may help shrink fibroids.

The GnRH agonists may cause side effects, so doctors recommend that people take these for no longer than 6 months. After a person stops taking these drugs, the fibroids typically grow back.


When fibroids cause pain, and medication does not work, a person may consider surgery. Doctors may recommend one of the following surgical procedures:

  • Myomectomy: A myomectomy is the removal of the fibroids from the uterus. This procedure does not remove the uterus, so it is still possible for the person to get pregnant afterward.
  • Ablation: This procedure involves using heat to destroy the fibroids. It will not remove the fibroids altogether, but they may shrink.
  • Laparoscopic power morcellation: For this procedure, a surgeon will make a tiny incision and insert a surgical instrument through it to break up fibroids. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) caution that this treatment carries significant risks.
  • Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy removes the uterus. Sometimes, the surgeon will also remove the ovaries.

Other symptoms of fibroids

In addition to pain, some people experience the following symptoms:

  • very heavy bleeding
  • anemia from heavy periods
  • frequent bowel movements or urination
  • swelling or pressure in the stomach


Many people find out that they have fibroids during a routine pelvic exam. A doctor can often feel the fibroids in the uterus during the exam.

A doctor can also detect fibroids by performing imaging tests, such as:

  • ultrasounds
  • MRIs
  • X-rays
  • CT scans

A doctor may sometimes recommend a hysterosalpingogram, which uses dye to see the uterus during an X-ray, or a sonohysterogram, which uses a saline solution to enhance the view of the uterus during an ultrasound.


Doctors do not fully understand what causes fibroids, but some possible causes and risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Fibroids may run in families, and certain genetic mutations increase the risk of these growths.
  • Hormones: Estrogen, progesterone, and growth hormones may increase the risk. Therefore, people who take hormonal birth control or have growth hormone injections may be more likely to develop fibroids.
  • Nutritional imbalances: Some research suggests that there is an association between vitamin D deficiency and the development of fibroids.
  • Race and ethnicity: African American women appear to be more likely than white women to develop fibroids.
  • Obesity: People who have overweight or obesity are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids than those with a moderate body weight.

When to see a doctor

It is not possible for a doctor to diagnose fibroids based on a person’s symptoms alone.

Many other conditions, including infections, pregnancy loss, and cancer, may share some of the symptoms of fibroids, so it is important to see a doctor for unusual bleeding or pelvic pain.

A person who already knows that they have fibroids should see a doctor if they experience:

  • sudden worsening of symptoms
  • heavy bleeding
  • pressure or swelling in the abdomen
  • returning fibroid symptoms after fibroid surgery


Many people develop uterine fibroids without being aware of them. However, some individuals may experience severe pain and need surgery or other treatments.

A person experiencing fibroid pain can stretch, use heat, or take OTC medications, but if the pain does not improve, they should see a doctor.

A doctor can guide treatment decisions by helping a person weigh up the risks and benefits of various symptom management options.

Epilepsy is relatively common in children. Many children with epilepsy will outgrow the condition before their teens, and, if not, treatments usually ensure a full and healthy life.

In this article, we look at the signs and symptoms of epilepsy in childhood, plus the different types of seizures and syndromes. We also discuss the treatment options for children with the condition.

Epilepsy and children

Epilepsy causes seizures that begin in the brain. It is a neurological condition that almost 3 million people experience in the United States, 470,000Trusted Source of whom are under 17 years of age. Often, adults with epilepsy have their first seizure in childhood or adolescence.

The Epilepsy Foundation estimate that two-thirds of children with epilepsy outgrow seizures by the time they reach their teens. Most children can eliminate seizures and prevent side effects with an organized system of care.

A doctor may diagnose epilepsy in a child if an individual has had one or more seizures that another condition did not cause. Seizures are more likely to occur during the first year of life.

Epilepsy affects each child differently, depending on their age, the type of seizure they have, how well they respond to treatment, and any other existing health conditions.

In some cases, medication can easily control seizures while other children may experience lifelong challenges with seizures.

Types and symptoms

There are different types of epileptic seizures and various epilepsy syndromes.

The two main types of seizures are focal seizures and generalized seizures.

Focal seizures

Also known as partial seizures, focal seizures affect only one side of the brain. Before a focal seizure, a child experiences an aura that signals a seizure is coming. The aura is the beginning of the seizure.

Auras may include:

  • changes in hearing, vision, or smell
  • unusual feelings, such as fear, euphoria, or a sense of déjà vu

Focal aware seizures only involve one spot or one side of the brain. These seizures typically affect a specific muscle group, such as in the fingers or legs, and do not involve a loss of consciousness.

The person having a focal aware seizure may appear “frozen” and unable to respond but can usually hear and understand things going on around them. Other symptoms include nausea, pale skin, and sweating.

Focal impaired awareness seizures typically cause a loss of consciousness or awareness of the surroundings. Symptoms include crying, laughing, staring, and smacking the lips.

Generalized seizures

Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain and usually cause a loss of consciousness. Children are typically sleepy and tired after the seizure. This latter effect is called the postictal state.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, types of generalized seizures include:

  • Absence seizures, also called petit mal seizures, cause a very brief loss of consciousness. The child may stare, blink rapidly, or have facial twitching. They are most common in ages 4–14 and usually lasts less than 10 seconds. Children with absence seizures typically do not have a postictal state.
  • Atonic seizure. During an atonic seizure, a child experiences a loss of muscle tone that comes on suddenly. They may fall down or become limp and stop responding. They usually last less than 15 seconds. These are also called drop seizures.
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizure (GTC). A GTC, or grand mal seizure, has phases. A child’s body and limbs will first contract, then straighten, and then shake. The muscles will then contract and relax. The final stage is the postictal period, where the child will be tired and confused. GTCs usually begin in childhood and last 1–3 minutes.
  • Myoclonic seizure. This type of seizure causes sudden jerking of the muscles. Myoclonic seizures usually last 1 or 2 seconds, and many can occur in a short time. People with brief myoclonic seizures do not lose consciousness.

Childhood epilepsy syndrome

If a child displays specific signs and symptoms, a doctor may diagnose them with a childhood epilepsy syndrome.

To make a diagnosis, the doctor will take into account:

  • the type of seizures
  • the age of onset
  • the findings of an electroencephalogram (EEG) that measures brain activity

The different kinds of epilepsy syndromes include:

Benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood

This syndrome can occur between 3 and 10 years of age. It affects 15% of children with epilepsy. Children may have focal seizures at night, which can develop into a GTC.

Rarely, children may have seizures during wakefulness, and these seizures usually involve twitching of the face and tongue. Children may stop having seizures by 16 years of age.

Childhood absence epilepsy

Affecting up to 12% of under 16s with epilepsy, this syndrome begins between 4 and 10 years of age. Up to 90% of children with the condition stop having seizures by the age of 12.

Because absence seizures are so brief, caregivers may not notice that a child is having one.

Infantile spasms

Also known as West syndrome, infantile spasms usually begin before a child is 1 year old. The syndrome causes brief spasms or jerking in one or more parts of the body. The spasms occur in clusters.

Infantile spasms can affect infants who have had a brain injury, and many children with the syndrome have learning difficulties or behavioral problems. They may also develop another epilepsy syndrome known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy

Beginning between 12 and 18 years of age, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy causes different types of seizures, including myoclonic seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and absence seizures.

Flashing lights can trigger these seizures, or they may occur shortly after waking up.

Juvenile myoclonic is the most common generalized epilepsy syndrome. It often continues into adulthood, but it may become less severe, and medication can control the seizures in up to 90% of cases.

Landau-Kleffner syndrome

This syndrome, known as LKS, is a rare childhood disorder that typically begins between 3 and 7 years of age. It causes difficulties in understanding language and verbal expression. Children with LKS may also have behavior problems.

Approximately 70% of children with LKS have obvious seizures, which are usually focal.

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

The typical onset of Lennon-Gastaut syndrome is between 3–5 years of age, although some people do not develop it until adolescence. It can cause several different types of seizures. Many children also have learning and behavior problems.

This syndrome can be challenging to treat, and seizures often continue into adulthood.

Temporal lobe epilepsy

The Epilepsy Foundation say temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of focal epilepsy, affecting 6 in 10 of those with focal epilepsy.

Symptoms usually occur between 10 and 20 years of age, but it can develop at any time.

How to identify seizures

Epilepsy affects each child differently. Recognizing a seizure can be challenging, especially in very young children, or in children who cannot communicate what is happening.

Identifying a seizure depends on many factors, including the age of the child and the type of epilepsy or seizure they have. Absence seizures, for example, are very easy to miss, whereas GTC seizures are much easier to identify.

Parents and caregivers should watch for when older children appear absent at inappropriate times, such as in the middle of playing, eating, or having a conversation.

Periods of rapid blinking, staring, or confusion can also indicate a seizure. A sudden loss of muscle tone, which causes falls, is another clue.

In babies, the signs can be very subtle. Caregivers can look for times when the infant is showing:

  • changes in breathing patterns
  • unusual facial expressions, such as movements of the eyelids or mouth
  • muscle movements, including jerks, bicycling of the legs, or episodes of stiffening

Loss of alertness or difficulty focusing the eyes are other symptoms of seizure in infants.

The symptoms of a seizure can be very similar to the symptoms of other health conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to see a doctor for a full evaluation and diagnosis.

Causes and triggers

Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in many people who develop the condition. Potential causes or contributing factors may include:

  • developmental disorders, including autism
  • genetics, as some types of epilepsy run in families
  • high fevers in childhood leading to seizures, known as febrile seizures
  • infectious diseases, including meningitis
  • maternal infections during pregnancy
  • poor nutrition during pregnancy
  • oxygen deficiency before or during birth
  • trauma to the head
  • tumors or cysts in the brain

Certain factors can trigger a seizure in those with epilepsy. Common triggers include:

  • excitement
  • flashing or flickering lights
  • lack of sleep
  • missing a dose of antiseizure medication
  • in rare cases, music or loud noises, such as church bells
  • skipping meals
  • stress


It can be difficult to diagnose some forms of epilepsy in children, especially infants and young children.

To help the doctor make a correct diagnosis, caregivers should keep a detailed description of a child’s symptoms. It can also be helpful to take a video recording of the child during a seizure.

A doctor will usually diagnose epilepsy when more than one seizure occurs, and where there is no apparent reason for it, such as fever or trauma.

Steps to diagnosis include:

  • a complete medical and family history
  • details of the seizure
  • physical examination
  • blood tests
  • brain scans and measurements, including a CT scan, MRI scan, and electroencephalogram (EEG)

After a child receives an epilepsy diagnosis, their caregivers and doctor have to work together to determine the types of seizures the child has and what kind of epilepsy they have. These factors help inform treatment.


Treatment options for epilepsy in children include:


Most people with epilepsy require antiepileptic drugs to control their symptoms. These medicines may stop seizures from happening, but they are not a cure, and they cannot stop a seizure once it has begun.

Many children do not require medication for the rest of their lives. Caregivers of children who have been seizure-free for several years should speak to their doctor about the possibility of reducing or coming off medication.

People should not stop treatment without medical consultation, as seizures may come back or get worse.

Antiepileptic drugs do not control seizures in all children. In these cases, other treatments may be necessary.

Ketogenic diet

If medications are not sufficient, some children may be able to try a ketogenic diet, or “keto diet,” to control their seizures. It is essential to work with a doctor and dietician when putting a child on a keto diet.


If epilepsy does not respond to drugs, a doctor may recommend neurostimulation. In this therapy, a device sends small electric currents to the nervous system.

There are currently three types of neurostimulation for epilepsy treatment:

  • vagus nerve stimulation
  • responsive neurostimulation
  • deep brain stimulation


In some cases, specific children can have surgery to remove a portion of the brain. These surgeries may prevent or reduce seizures.


The outlook for epilepsy in children varies, depending on the child and the type of epilepsy they have.

With treatment, most children and adults with epilepsy live full lives. Recent improvements in epilepsy treatment mean the condition is much more manageable now than ever before.

The Epilepsy Foundation estimates that one-third of children with epilepsy may outgrow seizures before they reach their teenage years. This is known as spontaneous remission. For other people, the seizures may become less frequent or less severe as they age.

Children with severe epilepsy syndromes may need extra support, especially if they also have learning and behavior difficulties.

Insomnia can have a serious impact on a person’s health and well-being. Now, a study of females aged 50 and over has found that some parts of the diet most likely contribute to this sleep disorder.

Insomnia affects many people all over the world. According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 40% of people in the United States experience some insomnia symptoms each year.

Researchers have taken due note of this, as numerous studies have suggested that insomnia is not just a mild annoyance: It may actually be linked with many other negative health outcomes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), short sleep duration and sleep disruptions are associated withTrusted Source cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and depression, to name a few.

For this reason, specialists have been looking for ways of preventing or treating insomnia and other sleep disorders — starting by looking for all the possible causes.

Existing research has already called attention to the fact that diet may influence a person’s sleep qualityTrusted Source. Now, a study from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, NY, suggests that a diet high in refined carbohydrates — particularly added sugars — is linked to a higher risk of insomnia. This, at least, appears to be the case among females aged 50 and over.

The research team reports these findings in a study paper that now appears in The American Journal of Clinical NutritionTrusted Source.

“Insomnia is often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy or medications, but these can be expensive or carry side effects,” explains senior study author James Gangwisch, PhD.

But, he adds, “[b]y identifying other factors that lead to insomnia, we may find straightforward and low cost interventions with fewer potential side effects.”

The possible underlying mechanism

The researchers worked with the data of 53,069 female participants aged 50–79, all of whom had enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study between September 1994 and December 1998.

To understand whether or not there really is a link between dietary choices and the risk of insomnia, the investigators looked for any associations between different diets and sleep disruptions.

Gangwisch and colleagues found a link between a higher risk of insomnia and a diet rich in refined carbohydrates. This includes foods with added sugars, soda, white rice, and white bread.

The researchers caution that it was unclear from their analysis whether the consumption of refined carbohydrates led to insomnia, or that people who experienced insomnia were more likely to consume refined carbs, especially sugary foods.

However, they do note that there is a possible underlying mechanism that might explain added sugars causing sleep disruptions.

“When blood sugar is raised quickly, your body reacts by releasing insulin, and the resulting drop in blood sugar can lead to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can interfere with sleep,” Gangwisch explains.

Why fruit will not impact sleep

The study authors also explain why not all foods that contain sugar will lead to the same effect. Fruits and vegetables — which naturally contain sugar — are unlikely to raise blood sugar levels nearly as quickly as foods containing added sugars.

This is because these natural foods are also high in fiber, which means that the body absorbs the sugar more slowly, preventing a spike in blood sugar levels.

Indeed, the female participants who had diets rich in vegetables and whole fruits — but not fruit juices — did not have an increased risk of insomnia.

“Whole fruits contain sugar, but the fiber in them slow the rate of absorption to help prevent spikes in blood sugar,” says Gangwisch.

“This suggests that the dietary culprit triggering the women’s insomnia was the highly processed foods that contain larger amounts of refined sugars that aren’t found naturally in food.”

James Gangwisch, Ph.D.

The researchers only worked with females aged 50 and over, but they believe that the findings could also apply to males and people of other ages. Going forward, they argue that this idea is worth exploring in more detailed studies.

“Based on our findings, we would need randomized clinical trials to determine if a dietary intervention, focused on increasing the consumption of whole foods and complex carbohydrates, could be used to prevent and treat insomnia,” concludes Gangwisch.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide and in the United States, specifically. New research finds that excessive sleep considerably raises the risk of this cardiovascular problem.

Globally, 15 millionTrusted Source people experience a stroke each year. Almost 6 million of these people die as a result, and 5 million go on to live with a disability.

In the U.S., over 795,000Trusted Source people have a stroke each year.

The list of traditional risk factorsTrusted Source for stroke is long, ranging from elements of lifestyle, including smoking, to preexisting conditions, such as diabetes.

More recently, researchers have started exploring sleep duration as another potential risk factor. Some studiesTrusted Source have found that either too much or too little sleep can increase the risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke.

According to these findings, regular sleep deprivation and sleep for more than 7 hours per night are each associated with a higher risk of stroke.

Now, a study appearing in the journal Neurology finds an association between daytime naps, excessive sleep, and stroke risk.

Dr. Xiaomin Zhang, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in Wuhan, China, is the corresponding author of the paper that details this study.

85% higher risk in long sleepers, nappers

Dr. Zhang and the team collected information from 31,750 people in China. None of the participants — who were 62 years old, on average — had a history of stroke or any other serious health condition at the start of the study.

The participants answered questions about their sleeping patterns and napping habits, and the researchers clinically followed the group for an average of 6 years.

The team found that 8% of the participants were in the habit of taking naps that lasted longer than 90 minutes, and 24% reported sleeping for at least 9 hours each night.

Over the study period, there were 1,557 strokes among the participants. Those who slept for 9 or more hours per night were 23% more likely to experience a stroke than those who regularly slept only 7–8 hours each night.

People who got less than 7 hours of shuteye or 8–9 hours had no higher risk of stroke than those who slept 7–8 hours.

Importantly, people who both slept for longer than 9 hours and napped for more than 90 minutes per day had an 85% higher risk of stroke than those who slept and napped moderately.

Finally, sleep quality seemed to play a role — people who reported poor sleep quality were 29% more likely to have a stroke than those whose sleep quality was reportedly good.

These results continued to be significant after adjusting for potential confounders, such as hypertension, diabetes, and smoking.

“These results highlight the importance of moderate napping and sleeping duration and maintaining good sleep quality, especially in middle-age and older adults.”

Dr. Xiaomin Zhang

Study limitations and potential mechanisms

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to their work, as well as the fact that more research is necessary.

First, because the study was observational, it cannot prove causality. Second, the research did not account for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that may have influenced the results.

Third, self-reported data is not as reliable as data recorded by researchers who observe participants’ sleep.

Finally, the results may only apply to older, healthy Chinese adults and not to other populations.

“More research is needed to understand how taking long naps and sleeping longer hours at night may be tied to an increased risk of stroke, but previous studies have shown that long nappers and sleepers have unfavorable changes in their cholesterol levels and increased waist circumferences, both of which are risk factors for stroke,” explains Dr. Zhang.

“In addition, long napping and sleeping may suggest an overall inactive lifestyle, which is also related to increased risk of stroke.”

There are various types of headache that can affect people during the night. Certain types of headache only happen at night, while some are far more likely to occur during the night or early hours of the morning.

In this article, we look at the different types of headache that people may experience at night.

We also discuss symptoms and treatment options.

Causes of nighttime headaches

The sections below contain information about different types of headache that are likely to occur at night.

Hypnic headache

Hypnic headaches are rare. According to the Migraine Trust, they occur most often in people over the age of 50, although they can also affect younger people. Hypnic headaches are more common in females than males.

Hypnic headaches only occur during sleep. If a person experiences nighttime headaches more than 10 times per month, they may have hypnic headaches. In some cases, hypnic headaches can occur if people sleep during the day.

Some people call hypnic headaches “the alarm clock headache,” because they cause people to wake up — often at the same time each night. In fact, people may find that a hypnic headache wakes them up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Symptoms of hypnic headache may include:

  • throbbing pain
  • pain on one or both sides of the head
  • pain that lasts anywhere between 15 minutes and 4 hours but usually lasts for around 30–60 minutes
  • increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • watery eyes or a blocked nose
  • nausea

Some people may have more than one hypnic headache per night.

Cluster headache

People who experience multiple headaches may have a cluster headache. These headache episodes, or clusters, can happen between one and eight times per day and last between 15 minutes and 3 hours. Cluster headaches are also one of the most painful types of headache.

Cluster headaches commonly occur at night and can cause people to wake up 1–2 hours after falling asleep.

Researchers are not sure what causes cluster headaches, but genetics may play a part. They usually occur in people who are over the age of 20. Males and people who smoke heavily are also more likely to experience cluster headaches.

Certain factors may also trigger cluster headaches, including:

  • alcohol intake
  • strong smells, such as paint fumes or solvents
  • exercise
  • overheating

Symptoms of cluster headaches can include:

  • severe stabbing pain on one side of the head, which can include the eye and temple area
  • red, watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • sweating on the side of the head where the headache is
  • restlessness and agitation
  • a headache that stops abruptly

Tension headache

Tension headaches can occur due to stress, tight muscles, or fatigue. People may experience tension headaches at night due to tension building up throughout the day.

Symptoms of a tension headache include:

  • a dull ache or squeezing sensation on both sides of the head
  • pain that feels like a tight band or vice around the head
  • aching muscles in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • tightness in the jaw
  • pain that lasts between 20 minutes and 2 hours


Migraine can cause intense head pain and wake people up from sleeping.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, the most common time for people to experience a migraine is the early morning. This is because any pain medication they may be taking to treat the head pain will often stop working after 4–8 hours.

The National Sleep Foundation report that 50% of migraine episodes occur between the hours of 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Symptoms of migraine include:

  • moderate-to-severe pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • changes in vision, such as seeing flashing lights or zigzag patterns

Each migraine episode can last 4–72 hours.


A doctor should be able to diagnose the type of headache a person has by conducting a physical examination, taking their medical history, and looking at any symptoms.

If a person has any other symptoms that suggest an underlying cause to nighttime headaches, a doctor may also carry out:

  • blood tests
  • MRI or CT scans
  • EEG tests, to look at brain wave patterns


The following sections list treatment options based on the type of nighttime headache a person may have.

Hypnic headache

To treat hypnic headaches, a person can consume caffeine before going to sleep. For people with hypnic headaches, consuming caffeine at bedtime does not seem to prevent them from sleeping.

In some cases, other treatment options may be more effective.

These include:

  • melatonin
  • flunarizine
  • indomethacin
  • lithium carbonate

People with stomach ulcers should avoid taking indomethacin, however.

Also, people with dehydration who use diuretics or have kidney or thyroid disease should consult their doctor before taking lithium carbonate.

Cluster headache

Although there is currently no cure for cluster headaches, there are treatment options to relieve the pain. Cluster headaches produce intense pain rapidly, so many pain relief medications are not effective enough.

According to the Migraine Trust, effective pain relief treatment for cluster headaches can include:

  • High flow oxygen: People can take in extra oxygen through a cylinder and face mask. Breathing in oxygen at a rate of 7–12 liters per minute may help delay or stop a headache episode. This may take 15–20 minutes to treat cluster headaches.
  • Sumatriptan: People can take this medication as an injection, which may relieve pain in 10 minutes during a cluster headache episode. People can also take sumatriptan as a tablet or nasal spray, but these forms can be slower to treat the pain.
  • Zolmitriptan nasal spray: This may be effective for treating cluster headaches in some people, but it can be slow to take effect.

Using preventive treatments is usually an effective way to stop the cluster headaches before they start. Preventive medications include:

  • verapamil
  • methysergide
  • lithium
  • corticosteroids
  • ergotamine
  • topiramate

Some of these preventive treatments can have side effects, so a doctor may need to monitor people while they are taking them.

Tension headache

If a person experiences tension headaches at night, taking over-the-counter pain relief medication before bedtime may help.

Applying a warm compress to the area or taking a warm bath or shower before bed can also help relax the muscles and relieve any tension.


There is currently no cure for migraine, though it is possible to treat the symptoms. People can take medication either to relieve the pain during a migraine episode or to prevent the development of a migraine in the first place.

Managing stress through relaxation techniques and regular exercise may also help prevent the severity or frequency of a migraine episode.

When to see a doctor

A person should see their doctor if they have frequent or severe headaches at night. A doctor will be able to carry out tests to check for any underlying causes and to find out which type of headache the person may be experiencing.

A person should also see their doctor if they notice any unusual symptoms, such as:

  • getting new headaches after the age of 50
  • changes in personality or mental state
  • getting headaches after a knock to the head
  • headaches that stop them doing everyday activities
  • fatigue or muscle weakness

Tips for good sleep

People may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of headaches at night through practicing good sleeping habits.

For example, people may be able to get better sleep by:

  • waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day
  • getting 7–8 hours of sleep each night
  • avoiding caffeine before bedtime, unless using it specifically as a treatment option
  • avoiding alcohol and nicotine, as these can affect sleep
  • unwinding and relaxing before going to sleep


People may be able to relieve headaches at night with pain relief medication, relaxation techniques, and good sleeping habits.

If a person has severe or persistent headaches at night or notices other symptoms alongside a nighttime headache, they should see their doctor.