Febrile Seizures

What is a febrile seizure

A Child is said to have febrile seizure if he/she develops a fit/seizure after an episode of fever. They are also called as fever fits/ febrile convulsions. They are very common in children and one in 20 children will have at least one febrile seizure at some point in their life. They usually occur between 6 months to 5 years and most most common before three years.

What Causes febrile seizures

Anything that causes your childs temperature to go up can lead to febrile seizure e.g., Viral/bacterial infections, Urine infections, Vaccinations.

What happens during febrile seizure

During febrile seizures your child will have the following

Fever usually higher than 102 F

Lose consciousness and the whole body may become stiff

Roll the eyes upwards

Violent twitching of the both arms and legs

May have trouble breathing

Some children may pass urine and stools

The seizures usually lasts for less than 5 minutes but may seem longer when a child is fitting before you and may be very frightening to watch

What to do during an episode of febrile seizures?
Be calm and follow the underlying steps. If possible, try to time the seizures using a clock

  • Place your child on his or her side on a surface where he or she won’t fall.
  • Stay close to watch and comfort your child.
  • Remove hard or sharp objects near your child.
  • Loosen tight or restrictive clothing.
  • Don’t restrain your child or interfere with your child’s movements.
  • Don’t put anything in your child’s mouth.
  • Time the seizure.
  • Remember, it is not necessary to lower your child’s fever to stop febrile seizures, so don’t try to give your child any fever medication during a seizure.

In addition to the above measures it is important to find out the cause of the fever and treat them. Seizures may also be due to other serious medical conditions and it is important to exclude them.

Does febrile Seizure reoccur and how to minimize that?

Yes they may happen again whenever the child develops temperature. So it is important to keep your child’s temperature down by giving regular paracetamol. Paracetamol can be given at a dose of 15m/kkg 4-6 hourly and not more than 4 times a day. Ibuprufen can be given at a dose of 5 mg/kg/day every 8 hours. Temperature can also be kept down by undressing your child and tepid sponging,

Does my child need to undergo any test?
Take your child to a pediatrician for the first episode of febrile seizures who will evaluate your child by doing a physical exam on your child and might order some more tests like EEG (Electroencephalogram) if your child had a complex febrile seizures and a Lumbar puncture (Spinal tap) if your doctor suspects a brain infection.

What is the long-term outcome of Febrile seizures?

Fortunately, febrile seizures aren’t as dangerous as they may look. Although they are frightening to watch they are usually harmless and do not cause brain damage or affect intelligence.

Dose my child has epilepsy?
Having a febrile seizure does not mean that a child has epilepsy; epilepsy is defined as having two or more seizures without the presence of fever.

Author: Dr. S. Boopathi MD, DNB, MRCPCH(UK)