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
What Causes Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?
TLE can be caused by infections, brain injury, a tumor,
genetic factors, or changes in brain structure.
Babies who have a febrile
seizure (caused by a high fever)
that lasts for 15 minutes or longer have a higher risk for developing TLE later on.
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:
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.