Febrile seizure and febrile convulsion
What it is a febrile seizure and what does it mean?
The rise of a child’s or infant’s body temperature can cause a febrile seizure, or febrile convulsion. This might be due to an inflammation or an infection.
Typically, children under 6 years who have a temperature of 38° Celsius or more are affected. It is mostly common between 6 months and 5 years. In total, up to 5 percent of all kids experience a febrile convulsion before they are 5 years old.
Seizures can look alarming to parents. They even frighten us. Professionals talk about a febrile seizure, when a child shows a high temperature where there is no clear cause or previous diagnosed neurological or developmental issue.
Febrile seizure – various types
There are two different types of febrile seizures
- A simple febrile seizure lasts under 15 minutes. It typically appears only once during an infection
- A complex febrile seizure may happen several times during an infection. It also tends to last longer than 15 minutes
In more than 90% of the cases, child’s do show only a simple febrile seizure.
Where does a febrile seizure come from
A child’s rising body temperature is the key driver of febrile seizures. They typically occur during the first day of the fever. Sometimes kids show them as well when a high body temperature is eventually coming down.
Typical infections causing febrile seizures do include but are no limited to gastroenteritis, tonsillitis, a urinary tract infection.
Very serious infections that cause a febrile seizure are infections of the central nervous system. The infection affects the brain and the spinal cord. Such rather serious infections include encephalitis or meningitis. Seizures linked to these conditions may have a more serious cause.
Febrile seizure in a child – how to recognize them
A febrile seizure often happens at the beginning of an illness, as the fever starts, and often before the parents realize the child is sick.
Have a look at the following signs your child might be showing:
- The child’s body becomes stiff
- Arms and legs start to twitch, shake or jerk on both sides of the body
- Your child might find it hard to breath
- They will lose consciousness
- They may lose control of their bladder or their bowels
- Vomiting could also be a sign of a febrile seizure
- They may foam at the mouth
- Their eyes may roll back in the head
- Crying and moaning is also reported as a sign of a febrile seizure
Even though a fever triggers a febrile seizure, the severity of signs and symptoms are not necessarily linked to the severity of the fever.
Febrile seizures treatment – the perfect case for continuous body temperature management
Place your child in the recovery position. This means placing it on the side with face turned to one side. This action typically stops them from swallowing any vomit. Airways will be kept open and in doing so you can prevent additional injury to occur.
If possible, take your time and stay with the kid during hat febrile seizure. Continuously monitor the body temperature (go back to: degree° – continuous thermometer).
Try to apply different approaches to cool your child off. While cooling it off, have a look at how the temperature unfolds. As soon as you see the temperature either stabilizes itself or is coming down, then you know, you are on the right track.
If the seizure takes longer than 5 minutes, consider calling a doctor. If it lasts longer than 10 minutes, consider calling an ambulance or seeing the next hospital. Even though it might probably not be serious, it is a sensible precaution.
It does not happen very often, but when the seizure continuous for a long time, a (hospital) doctor may give medication to stop the seizure. In such cases the infection appears to be a serious one and the child should be kept under professional observation.