A little boy who giggled uncontrollably was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour, that caused his laughing seizures for up to 17 hours a day.
Jack Young’s parents, Gemma and Ed, of north Somerset, just thought their baby boy was really happy.
But when the constant giggles became too much, keeping the family up at night, medics revealed that the outbursts were triggered by a benign brain tumour called hypothalamic hamartoma, shares Daily Mail.
This caused ‘gelastic’ epileptic seizures – dubbed ‘laughing seizures’. The rare tumours are thought to affect one in 200,000 people.
Two years after the outbursts began, which could last from first thing in the morning until last thing at night, Jack, who is now four, had a 10 hour operation to remove the growth and the strange seizures stopped.
Jack’s relieved mother, Mrs Young, 32, said: ‘There was no break from it, the chuckle sound was constant, and for a long time we had no clue why.
‘We were exhausted and so happy when, after two long years, doctors could finally operate on Jack and put an end to his seizures.’
Mr Young, 42, and Mrs Young assumed their son Jack was just joyful when he started making chuckling sounds two weeks after he was born on May 11, 2014.
Mrs Young says the laughter – which sometimes involved 30 minute breaks but could run non-stop for 17 hours – didn’t even wake him up at night.
It soon became like a ‘record on repeat’.
‘It was a little chuckle but it just seemed to go on and on’, Mrs Young, who works at Thatchers Cider with her husband, said.
‘To start with, I was just a new mum trying to get into a new routine, but after two months things became too much and we had to move Jack downstairs to sleep in the end, as he was keeping his brother up too, it was exhausting.’
People just thought he was happy
Then, at Jack’s six-week check up, a health visitor told Mrs Young she had never heard Jack’s giggling sounds before and was concerned.
‘I felt awful that another woman had noticed this in my baby, and as a mum it should have been me who realised it,’ said Mrs Young, who has a nine-year-old son from a previous relationship.
She immediately took Jack to see the GP, who was baffled and referred the baby to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
‘By this time, none of us were getting any sleep at all and I was begging doctors to do something’, Mrs Young added. ‘The sound was relentless and so unpredictable. It was hard to fall asleep, as I had no idea when the noise was going to happen again.’
‘Even a nurse at the hospital thought he was just laughing and was shocked when she realised his “laugh” was the reason we were seeing doctors,’ Mrs Young said.
‘People would say to us, “Isn’t he a happy lad?” and he was a really happy little boy, but his chuckle wasn’t laughter, it was something else.
‘I had no idea what could be wrong with Jack, but I was terrified that it might never stop.’
Finally, after Jack had an MRI scan, his family were given a diagnosis in November 2014.
The horrifying diagnosis
Jack had a hypothalamic hamartoma, meaning he had a benign brain tumour the size of a grape at the base of his brain.
The condition, which is difficult to diagnose, causes seizures, behavioural problems, blackouts and memory loss.
‘It was a huge relief to know what was actually wrong with him, but so heartbreaking at the same time to think he had gone through all of that.’
Since the operation, Jack, now aged four, has not had one single laughing seizure.
‘The day after the operation we realised Jack had not giggled once, which was a strange feeling,’ Mrs Young said.
‘We were sat around waiting for him to do it, but he didn’t. But when we did hear him laugh properly for the first time it was amazing.’
Giggles flow naturally now
Jack’s parents admit they still feel nervous when he giggles naturally, but are thankful he will live a normal life.
Now a happy, healthy little boy, no one would know there had ever been anything wrong with Jack.
Mrs Young added: ‘He’s such a happy little boy now and is a real success story.
‘He is such a cheeky little lad, with a great sense of humour, coming out with one-liners which make us all laugh.
‘Hypothalamic hamartoma is so rare and I want other parents to know there is light at the end of the tunnel and things do get better.
‘That operation changed Jack’s life, and ours, and we are so thankful.’
Wow! What a strange symptom to suffer. Glad everything turned out OK for little Jack x
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