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Could my toddler have vertigo or is it a seizure?

My little boy is 2 1/2 years old and has been suffering from very strange 'turns' since he was about 18 months old.
Every couple of weeks, to couple of days and once every hour on the hour this happens: his eyes suddenly flicker very fast from side to side, sometimes they roll back in his head so I cant see his pupils. He turns his head to one side and often freezes. He is conscious during this which lasts from 1 minute to 5 minutes but is usually just 2 -3 minutes long. He can talk to me while this is happening and remembers the episode afterwards. Initially he fell to the ground but recently he is able to stand holding on to me or a table etc.
He also complains bitterly about hearing and seeing fireworks, not feeling well and seeing spiders before a 'turn' happens - this can sometimes be 24 hours before hand.
We saw a pediatric specialist who initially diagnosed 'simple partial epilepsy'. However recently they said it could be vertigo. We are waiting on an MRI scan, ENT and Neurology appointments but expect these to be 5 months away and the 'turns' are increasing in frequency.
If this is vertigo I know that no serious damage can come to him but if it is epilepsy I worry about the delay. Any thoughts? Does this sound like vertigo especially in someone so young?
8 Responses
149081 tn?1242397832
   My personal opinion is epilepsy. My step sister had it when we were younger and the first sign of an approaching episode was the eyes flickering along with a blank stare. Having vertigo or the sense of vertigo is that the room is spinning or the person is spinning. A constant state of vertigo is most desribed as being in a constant dizzy state or riding waves in the ocean.

     The process of specialist appointments could be sped up if your pediatrician's office scheduled the appointments for you.

    ~Best Wishes
Avatar universal
I agree with scarlet; all those symptoms sound like classic signs of epileptic seizures.  Vertigo is simply severe dizziness and is usually inner-ear based.  I've never heard of vertigo causing the neurological symptoms your child seems to suffer from.
Avatar universal
I don't know anything about vertigo, and I don't know that much about epilepsy either, but I have had 2 seizures and I'm one of those people who got the "aura" - a sense that a seizure's coming before it happens, and it sounds like his warning signs are an aura.  I didn't see spiders or fireworks, but I had my own weird things that happened (smells particularly), and it just seems like it's a similar feeling.  But like I said, I know nothing about vertigo, and my seizures were non-epileptic.  Just a similar story to try to help you make sense of things.
Avatar universal
My Daughter, when she was little she would go stiff as a board and her eyes fixed. It would last a minute or two. It felt longer. She was diagnosed at one years old with tonic clonic seizures. She was put on phenobarbetal for about 3 or 4 years. It help alot, but getting to that point was a mess. She took the pill wonderfully. She hates applesauce to this day...She is 13 years old and has been seizures free for over 8 years, knock on wood! The only problem she had after she was off the medication was she was thinking faster that she could write. I don't know if I'm decribing it correctly, But I worked with her teachers every year. It took probably 2 or 3 years to workout her problem. Now she has been in high honors in school for years. Smart and very aguementive(teens!). My point is your child will be fine. I know easier said than done. I still worry about her activities hoping she doesn't hit her head, but she'll be fine too.There is also groups that get together with kids that have seizures. That might help you out too.  Good luck
Avatar universal
my 2 year old girl had a turn like this today and i think it was vertigo. she put her head to one side, staggered, and fell. couldn't balance, eyes going back and forth(like described below) and she vomited. just read this ....

"We need to determine if dizziness is vertiginous or not. Vertigo is a specific spinning sensation, an illusion of motion. You may remember as a child spinning like a top and the sensation you would have when you stopped. It was fun then but it can be disconcerting when it happens on its own. You may recall nausea, veering and staggering. You tended to veer a certain way depending on your direction of spin. If you had spun around with a friend you may have seen his eyes jiggle at the time he had vertigo. This is nystagmus and it goes with vertigo. You can observe nystagmus if you watch a person look out the window in a train or car. As they move past telephone poles or trees you see a repeating jumping eye movement. The eye slowly goes in one direction and quickly back to its original position in the opposite direction."

we took her to the doctor who suggested epilepsy -but im certain it was a case of severe vertigo
Avatar universal
In some ways it does sound like a seizure, but in others it doesn't.  One main thing that has me thinking it may not be a seizure is the fact that you say he can talk to you during the "turning" episodes and that he remembers it all after it is done.  This is pretty uncommon for a seizure.  Majority of the time (I'm sure there are exceptions to this though), the person who is having the seizure not only cannot communicate during the seizure, but they tend not to remember what happened.

does your son ever lose control over his bladder during these episodes?  That also is a common occurrence with a seizure.

With the "auras" he's experiencing before the episodes, I'm wondering if perhaps he's suffering from some sort of migraine activity (yes, they actually can happen with NO headache).  That could explain the auras and it may even somewhat explain the turning - perhaps the coming migraine triggers vertigo?

I would definitely push to have testing done sooner rather than later.  I would call his pediatrician and tell them that these episodes are happening more frequently and you feel he needs to be seen ASAP - waiting five months is crazy!

Best of luck and keeps us posted on how he's doing.
Your Point - " - perhaps the coming migraine triggers vertigo " - my son has been struggling with this situation since about 18 months of age. He has episodic migraines, meaning they start to happen about every 6 - 8 weeks . After a migraine finishes, he gets back to himself fairly quickly and can participate in all activities again.

He gets vertigo spells, these eventually errupt into vomiting and sleep and vomiting and sleep over 36 hours. He does not usually have abdominal pain, but he is tired and his illness appears to
be very similar to abdominal migraine.

So Dizziness is his #1 Worst Symptom. If you have any ideas, please comment.
Avatar universal
A little girl I nanny for had this too.  When she was just a few weeks old she started having these episodes of looking like she was holding her breath. She'd turn blue.....if we picked her up and blew in her face to startle her she'd breathe.  It was very scary.  Then when she was two she had just started spinning around in circles...making herself dizzy!  Just a few weeks after she had done that (for play)...she had this episode where her eyes started darting back and forth and she was crying and saying "No spin! No spin! No spin!!".   We took this to mean she was feeling dizzy as she had when she had been spinning around.  These happened maybe once a week...sometimes more sometimes less....lasted a few minutes.  She was always conscious...talking...crying.  Her parents took her to a Dr who actually diagnosed her with a migraine disorder.  Migraines run in the mom's family...and these symptoms can signal a migraine disorder that will appear later in life.  Not sure when that will happen!  They stopped when she was about 3 or 4.  She will be 11 next week....and so far no signs of that yet...though there are some little hints....there are times she is extremely sensitive to noise...even if it's not loud she insists it's deafening!  And she has had a few headaches....only one was close to migraine status when she had H1N1 flu late last year.  
Anyway, it's worth looking into.  
Please have her tested for Lyme disease. Every one of these symptoms you mention points to Lyme. Find a practitioner who will do a thorough intake and do the Western Blot blood test. Please don't let the doctors lightly dismiss this. If your doctor refuses keep searching until you find one who will listen. There is too much ignorance in the medical field because they don't have the time to uncover the root cause of symptoms. I wish you the best.
Avatar universal
When the little girl you nanny for was a baby did she do anything strange with her eyes during position changes? I am in the process of trying to find out what my baby could be doing?
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