What Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?
Kids with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have seizures that start in one of the temporal lobes of the brain. The temporal lobes are on the sides of the brain behind the temples. This area of the brain is involved in controlling emotions and short-term memory.
TLE begins in children around 10 years old to late adolescence, but can start at any age if there is a structural lesion in the temporal lobe.
What Happens in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?
The seizures in TLE are focal seizures. Focal seizures begin in one specific location in the brain.
- If someone stays aware during a TLE seizure, it is called a focal onset aware seizure (formerly called a simple partial seizure).
- If someone loses awareness during the seizure, it is called a focal onset impaired awareness seizure (formerly called a complex partial seizure).
What Do Seizures Look Like in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?
Someone having a focal onset aware seizure may have an aura. An aura is a special feeling that can include:
- déjà vu (a feeling of already having been in the present situation)
- a smell, taste, sound, or vision
- an emotion (such as fear)
- nausea or a rising sensation in the abdomen
Someone having a focal onset impaired awareness seizure may stare, rub their hands, or smack their lips. It may be hard to speak or understand language during the seizure.
Sometimes a focal seizure can develop (or generalize) into a seizure that involves both sides of the brain. This is called a focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizure. With this type of seizure, the whole body jerks with forceful movements.
What Causes Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?
TLE can be caused by infections, brain injury, a tumor, genetic factors, or changes in brain structure.
How Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Diagnosed?
TLE is diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist (a specialist in brain, spine, and nervous system problems). Testing may include:
- blood tests and urine tests
- EEG, or electroencephalography (to see brain waves/electrical activity in the brain)
- VEEG, or video electroencephalography (EEG with video recording)
- CAT scan, MRI, or PET/MRI scans to look inside the brain
How Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Treated?
Seizures in TLE usually get better with medicine. If medicines don't control the seizures, doctors may recommend neurostimulation (using a device to stimulate nerves to stop seizures) or surgery. The results from surgery are excellent, so neurologists prefer it over neurostimulation.
How Can I Help My Child?
Kids with temporal lobe epilepsy can lead a normal life. To help your child:
- Make sure your child takes medicines as prescribed.
- Tell the doctor if you don't think a medicine is working or notice anything different.
Some kids with TLE have trouble with memory and mood. Get help from specialists and therapists early on to support academic, social, and emotional success.
It's important to keep your child safe during a seizure. So make sure that other adults and caregivers (family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc.) know what to do.
Often, temporal lobe epilepsy is a lifelong condition. When it's time, help your child successfully transition into adult health care.Back to Articles
Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but most new diagnoses are in kids.Read More
Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, they usually stop on their own and don't cause any other health problems.Read More
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.Read More
First Aid: Seizures
Although seizures can be frightening, usually they last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life-threatening.Read More
Intractable epilepsy is when a child's seizures can't be controlled by medicines. Doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments for intractable seizures.Read More
Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
Kids with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) have one or more of several different kinds of seizures, which begin around the age of puberty.Read More
Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE)
Kids with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) have seizures where they "blank out" for a few seconds. Most kids will outgrow CAE.Read More
Benign Rolandic Epilepsy
Kids with benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood (BREC) have seizures that involve twitching, numbness, or tingling of the face or tongue.Read More
Epilepsy surgery is an operation done on the brain to reduce or stop seizures.Read More
Epilepsy Factsheet (for Schools)
What teachers should know about epilepsy, and what they can do to help students with the condition succeed in school.Read More
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.Read More
It comes from a Greek word meaning "to hold or seize," and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.Read More
Brain and Nervous System
If the brain is a central computer that controls all the functions of the body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth to different parts of the body. Find out how they work in this Body Basics article.Read More
You might hear a seizure called a convulsion, fit, or spell.Read More
When Your Child Outgrows Pediatric Care
Help your teen or young adult make the transition from pediatric health care to adult health care. Get tips on finding a new doctor and getting health insurance.Read More