Do you know what a febrile seizure is?
Febrile seizures are also know as febrile convulsions and can happen when a child has a fever.
They are more common in children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, although they are not limited to these ages.
Febrile seizures can be frightening to watch but they are usually harmless.
Causes of febrile seizures
The exact cause of febrile seizures is unknown, although they are linked to the start of a fever (a high temperature of 38C or above).
There may be a genetic link – the chances of a febrile seizure is increased if a close family member has had them.
Common causes of a bacterial infection with a temperature high enough to cause a febrile seizure are:
- Chicken Pox;
- Chest Infections;
- Middle ear infections.
Rarely, a febrile convulsion can happen after vaccinations.
Signs of a febrile seizure
Febrile seizures usually last less then 5 minutes. During a seizure your child may:
- Become stiff and unresponsive
- Lose consciousness
- Wet or soil themselves
- Foam at the mouth
What to do during a febrile seizure
Most febrile seizures are harmless and although your child may appear drowsy afterwards, they soon recover.
The most important things to remember during a febrile seizure are:
- Stay with your child and make a note of how long the seizure lasts.
- DO NOT put anything in your child’s mouth during the seizure.
Call 999 or take your child to hospital if:
- Your child is having a febrile seizure for the first time
- The seizure lasts for longer than 5 minutes
- You suspect it is being caused by a serious illness such as meningitis.
- Your child is having breathing difficulties
Below is an account of a febrile seizure from a Mum who didn’t know anything about them before her daughter experienced one.
Febrile Seizures – As told by a Mum
My daughter was unwell with a chest infection. She has a compromised immune system and we had already started her on antibiotics for the infection the day before.
At 4pm, her temperature began to spike and suddenly shot above 40C. I was about to administer paracetamol when I noticed that she was unresponsive and floppy. The skin on her arms and legs was mottled and I was terrified. She wasn’t twitching or obviously having a seizure and that concerned me more. I immediately dialled 999 because my instincts were telling me that something was wrong. At that time, a febrile seizure didn’t even cross my mind.
The operator took our details and tried to stay with us to wait for the ambulance to arrive but had to leave us. She did give strict instructions to call back if anything changed.
I stayed with my daughter and was absolutely gobsmacked when 20 minutes later she was sat on the sofa eating chicken nuggets and chips, completely oblivious to everything that had gone on.
I phoned 999 again to update them of the situation, admitting my daughter now appeared to be fine was a strange one. We still required a paramedic and an ambulance because she is under 5 but there was no rush.
We left the hospital after a few hours, with confirmation that it was a febrile seizure brought on by the fever of the chest infection. She didn’t have another one during the illness and recovered well.
I do wish I had known more about febrile seizures then and this information would have been invaluable.
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