Febrile seizures in children
What are febrile seizures?
Febrile seizures are seizures or fits caused due to fever. They are usually seen in children between 6 months to 5 years of age. Sometimes there may be a history of febrile seizures in some one else in the family.
What are the infections that can cause febrile seizures?
Any infection that can cause fever can trigger seizures. This can be minor infections like common cold, ear infections, urine infections etc. In some children there may be no fever at the time of seizures but may be noticed before or after the seizures.
How can parents recognize the seizures?
During seizures, the child may lose consciousness briefly. This can be followed by shaking or jerking movements of hands and legs. Sometimes there may be stiffening of the body without jerking. At other times there may be twitching or jerking of one part of the body like hands or legs. At other times there may be rolling up of the eyes. In some children there might be loss of consciousness with none of the above findings. The child may remain drowsy for a brief period after the seizures.
What should the parents do when the child has seizures?
- The parents should avoid panicking and perform first aid measures.
- They should note the time of onset of seizures.
- The child should be placed flat on a safe flat surface to prevent accidental injury
- Do not restrain or hold the child during seizures
- He can be turned to one side to prevent choking
- Do not place anything in the child’s mouth
When should the parents take the child to a hospital?
- They should call the ambulance and take the child to a hospital if seizures last more than 5 minutes.
- If the child does not recover quickly from the seizure
- If it is the first episode of febrile seizure
- If child shows any worrying signs like headache, persistent vomiting, neck stiffness and photophobia (inability to look at the light)
How are febrile seizures evaluated in the hospital?
Doctors will examine and may perform some tests to ensure that the seizures are not part of a more serious conditions like meningitis (infection of the brain). This is particularly useful for the first episode of febrile seizures. They may also do tests to diagnose the cause of fever.
Do they cause any harm to the child?
In most children brief seizures lasting less than 15 minutes do not cause any harm to the child. Even prolonged seizures do not usually cause harm to the child other than increasing the risk of epilepsy. However, a proportion of children can have a recurrence of febrile seizures until the age of 5 years.
Can children with febrile seizures develop epilepsy?
In epilepsy, there are repeated episodes of seizures without fever. Children with febrile seizures have slightly increased risk of epilepsy compared to the general population. The risk of epilepsy is increased in children with prolonged and repetitive seizures and family history of epilepsy.
Can febrile seizures be prevented?
As febrile seizures are brief and harmless in majority of children, no long-term medication is recommended. Some children may be prescribed preventive medication to be taken during high fever to prevent the seizures from occurring.
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