Febrile seizures are convulsions (severe shaking of the body) that occur in a child who is between six months and six years of age and has a temperature greater than 100.4ºF (38ºC). Most febrile seizures last a minute or two, but they can range from a few seconds to more than 15 minutes.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about febrile seizures:
Who Can Get a Febrile Seizures?
About 5 in 100 children may have a febrile seizure sometime before their 6th birthday. The majority of febrile seizures occur in children between 12 and 18 months of age. Most of these children (60%) have just one febrile seizure in a lifetime. The other 40% may have one to three recurrences over the next few years. They do not cause any brain damage; however, a few children (3%) may later have seizures even without fever.
What Does a Febrile Seizures Look Like?
Although febrile seizures can be scary, most are harmless. During a febrile seizure:
- Your child will usually lose consciousness.
- Their muscles may stiffen or jerk.
- Your child may go red or blue in the face.
- The febrile convulsion may last for several minutes.
When the movements stop, your child will regain consciousness but will probably remain sleepy or irritated afterwards.
What First Aid Should be Done for a Febrile Seizure?
Note the time it started. STAY CALM – DONT PANIC.
- Protect the airway: Place the child on their side but DO NOT try to stop their movement or convulsions. DO NOT put anything in the child’s mouth.
- Reduce the temperature: Bringing your child’s fever down as quickly as possible will shorten the seizure. Remove your child’s clothing and apply cold wash cloths to the face and neck. When the seizure stops, try to lower the child’s temperature to make them more comfortable by giving the usual dose of paracetamol .
- Time how long the seizure lasted.
- Call for emergency /Ambulance services.
Is a Febrile Seizures Dangerous?
Although alarming, a febrile seizure in itself is not usually dangerous. Full recovery is usual. Some children who have febrile seizures may develop epilepsy. This is rare, but is more likely in children who have long febrile seizures, seizures that affect only part of the body, a family history of epilepsy or more than one seizure within 24 hours.
How to Prevent Febrile Seizures?
If your child has a fever, you can use fever-lowering drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to make your child feel better. However, this medicine won’t lower the risk of a seizure.
Will it Happen Again?
Only one seizure occurs in most cases. However, a second seizure may occur during a future feverish illness in 30-35% cases. A future febrile seizure is more likely if there is a family history of febrile seizures in close relatives (father, mother, sister, brother). Once the child is past 3 years old, the chance of having more than one seizure becomes much less likely.
Should a Child who has had a Febrile Seizures Have Immunisations?
Yes. Immunisations are very important for your child’s health. A febrile seizure is extremely unlikely to happen again after immunisation.
Call Your EMERGENCY services immediately, if:
- Your child has a febrile convulsion.
- The neck becomes stiff.
- Your child becomes confused or delirious or lethargic
- Your child becomes difficult to awaken.
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