A Parents Guide to Febrile Seizures
Febrile seizures are epileptic convulsions associated with a high body temperature or fever in infants and small children. They typically occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years of age. One in every 25 children may experience a febrile seizure. There is a 15-70% chance of having a second seizure, once a child has had an initial febrile seizure.
What are the symptoms of a febrile seizure?
During a febrile seizure, a child typically loses consciousness. Additionally, a child will become rigid, experience shaking of certain limbs, might foam at the mouth, and have his/her eyes roll back or deviate to one side. Febrile seizures typically last a minute or two. However, they can last up to 15 minutes
Is a febrile seizure harmful?
Febrile seizures can be scary for parents. They are usually short and are not harmful to the child. Short febrile seizures have not been shown to cause brain damage. There is a small chance that children with febrile seizures may go on to develop epilepsy.
What should I do if my child starts having a seizure?
During a seizure, there is a small chance that the child may be injured from falling or from choking on food or saliva. It is important to use proper first aid procedure to help avoid these hazards. It is important to remain calm and observe the child. Try to time the seizure activity. The child should be lowered to the ground and turned on his/her side. There is no need to restrain the child during the seizure. If possible, remove any item from the child’s mouth. Never place your fingers or another object inside the mouth due to the possibility of obstructing the child’s airway.
Once the seizure has ended, the child should be taken to a doctor to be evaluated for the source of the fever, especially if the child is lethargic, vomiting, or has a stiff neck. Most simple febrile seizures do not require blood work, imaging studies of the brain, an EEG, a lumbar puncture, or hospitalization. These tests are usually done only if the patient had a complex prolonged seizure or is showing signs of a serious infection.
Can I prevent a febrile seizure?
Some parents give their child a fever-reducing medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, these have not been shown to prevent all febrile seizures. Prolonged daily use of anticonvulsant medications is not recommended due to side effects and uncertain effectiveness.