Febrile seizures are triggered by fever and not usually serious. Children are typically affected during viral illnesses in which the fever spikes up to high levels abruptly. Approximately, 2-5% of children have experienced febrile seizures.
Children who have febrile seizures have a minimal risk of later developing regular seizures. Take note that the seizures are not damaging though and will not lead to brain damage.
First aid care for febrile seizures
In case a child experiences a febrile seizure, you have to remain calm and carefully monitor the child. You can prevent unintentional injury by placing the child in a properly protected surface such as the ground or the floor. Do not hold or restrain the child during a convulsion. Choking can be prevented by placing the child on his/her side or stomach. If possible, the parent must gently remove all objects in the mouth of the child.
Parents should not place anything in the mouth of the child during a convulsion. Any objects placed inside the mouth can be broken down and obstruct the airway. In case febrile seizures lasts longer than 10 minutes, the child must be taken right away to the nearest healthcare facility for further treatment. Once the seizure has ended, the child must be taken to a doctor to check the cause of the fever. Cases in which the child has symptoms of a stiff neck, excessive vomiting or extreme lethargy requires immediate medical care.
Even though febrile seizures are not detrimental and do not usually require any treatment, the concern arises if the doctor is not certain that the child is actually having a simple febrile seizure. Although a child has both fever and a seizure, it can oftentimes be possible that there is a different condition such as meningitis. In such cases, further testing such as a spinal tap might be carried out especially among children younger than 12-18 months old.
Urine and blood tests can also be done in some cases. Many children who experience simple febrile seizures who are not fussy and appear well after an episode do not require any testing though. Actually, tests such as CT scan, EEG or MRI should not be routinely done in children after an initial simple seizure.
The only way to avert febrile seizures is to attempt as much as possible to avoid any illness which can lead to fever in the first place. Providing fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the initial sign of a fever is often recommended, but will not likely prevent a seizure.
Some children who experience several episodes of febrile seizures can be managed with diazepam at the first sign of a fever but this is not usually needed. A specialist can help properly diagnose if the child requires treatment for the seizures.