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Febrile Seizures in Children

Parenting and Child Care

A febrile seizure is not a disease but only a symptom of an illness. It is not epilepsy or seizure activity caused by traumatic brain injury. It affects infants or small children that have a virus or other illness causing a fever to develop. As a child grows older their tendency to have a convulsion from fever diminishes by the age of 4-5 years.

Febrile Seizure Symptoms

If and when a febrile seizure occurs a parent may feel very helpless and frightened. During a seizure the child’s eyes will begin rolling, hands will become clenched, the arms will be bent and twisting, the legs will be drawn up and the child will be unresponsive. He may be drooling since he can’t swallow. The convulsion is usually brief and self limited. It will stop spontaneously and the child will fall into a restful sleep. Usually he will not remember the incident.

Febrile Seizure Causes

The cause of a febrile seizure is from a rapidly rising temperature, usually over 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The rise in temperature is due to an acute illness or infection. The febrile seizure does not necessarily indicate a serious illness and can even come from having a fever from a simple common cold. Actually the illness can be treated without complications. The convulsion should have no ill effect on the child’s development. No on going problems will come from the seizure.

Febrile Seizure Treatment

There are two types of febrile seizures: simple and complex. The simple seizure is an isolated incident. It will usually last 1-2 minutes although it seems a lot longer. The complex seizure is recurrent and lasts more than 5 minutes. The treatment or care is the same for both types. Make sure the child is on the floor or on a bed but prevent him from falling. During a seizure do not restrict his movement but guide the movements to keep him safe from hitting furnishings or walls. Loosen the clothing from around his neck and turn his head to the side to allow saliva to drain from his mouth. Never put your fingers or any object into the mouth of a child having a seizure as the child or you could be seriously injured.

During the seizure a cool cloth can be applied to his forehead. Following the febrile seizure sleep will occur. When the child wakes up you should comfort him with a calm soothing voice. A warm bath will draw blood to the skin and away from the over taxed brain. It will quiet the body systems and help to lower his temperature. As the child becomes more alert offer fluids and acetaminophen (never give aspirin). Do Not Try To Give Medications Or Fluids During A Seizure. Do contact your doctor. The doctor usually can diagnose a febrile seizure by the description of the symptoms. He most likely will want to see the child and treat the cause of the febrile seizure.

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