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Child's body tensed up and started shaking while asleep, eyes opened but still asleep

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
My son was sleeping on his back when his body tensed up and started shaking. Still asleep but his eyes were open. It was odd. He looked like when he gets scared of falling. Still shaking , tensed up he even kind of managed to sit up a bit or do a half a roll to his side.
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 1 hour later
Hello ,
Thanks for posting your query.
The symptoms you mentioned very much resemble a seizure (convulsion)or similar involuntary movement.
Assuming he has no other symptoms the other possibility could be nightmares which young children do experience but it usually does not cause involuntary shaking and tensing (hypertonicity)
The fact that his whole body tensed up (hypertonicity), his eyeballs uprolled (I assume), and there was involuntary movement (shaking or jerking) which lasted for some time and resolved on its own, do indicate some seizure activity .
The commonest cause of such seizure in infants or young children less than five years old is febrile seizure or convulsion occuring due to disturbance of body temperature.
The other causes could be seizure disorder, metabolic disorder, infections, hereditary syndromes etc.
Please do not panic, I do not mean to say that he does have any of the above mentioned conditions.However as a vigilant parent you should watch out for any recurrence of such episodes
and get him evaluated to rule out a seizure.This can be done by his pediatrician by thorugh clinical examination and investigations like EEG(electro encephalogram) or an CT scan/MRI brain if indicated
As of now if he has no fever, no other symptoms then you can just wait n watch.
Meanwhile you should make sure he has adequate fluids throughout the day and before bed to maintain his hydration and refrain from threatening him for any purpose like feeding, sleeping etc
Hope I have answered your query.

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