More often than not, when a parent attends our class it is the first time they have ever heard of febrile seizures. Whilst we don't want to frighten parents, we feel its better to be forewarned and forearmed. After all, if your child experiences a febrile seizure and you have never heard of them, it is likely to be an extremely distressing experience.
What is a febrile seizure?
Febrile seizures (also known as febrile convulsions) are fits that can happen when a child has a fever. They most often happen between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, the age in which our body’s heat control system is rather amateur and we are unable to regulate our body temperature properly. Illnesses which bring on a fever such as chicken pox, flu, ear infections and tonsilitis are some of the more common causes of febrile seizures, although it’s important to remember they don’t usually cause seizures.
What happens during a seizure?
When a baby or child experiences a febrile seizure, their body goes stiff and twitches or jolts (sometimes violently), and during this time they will be unconscious. Sometimes the child will be sick, foam at the mouth and their eyes may roll back. The seizure (fit) usually lasts for less than 5 minutes.
After the seizure, your child may be sleepy for up to an hour. A straightforward febrile seizure like this will only happen once during an illness.
How should you react to a febrile seizure?
- As much as you can, stay calm and remember this is just the body’s way of coping with an unusually high temperature
- Place the baby/child on their side with their head tilted back. Stay with them and try to keep a note of how long the seizure lasts
- Do not put anything in their mouth including medicine or a thermometer as this could cause injury or tongue biting
- Cool them by removing additional layers of clothing
- Call 999 and ask for an ambulance, making them aware if you think the seizure has been caused by a serious illness like meningitis
While it is unlikely there is anything seriously wrong, it is nevertheless important to get your child checked over by medical professionals by alerting 999. Febrile seizures usually only occur once, so if the seizure reoccurs within 24 hours, again ring 999 as this could be a sign of something more serious.
Source: NHS online.