Febrile Seizure

BASIC INFORMATION

DESCRIPTION

A febrile seizure is a convulsion that occurs with a fever in infants or small children. The fever may be from many causes, such as a cold or ear infection. Febrile seizures are common in young children. For many children, a febrile seizure occurs just one time. About one-third of the children will have recurrent febrile seizures.Few children have more than three.

FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Repeated, rhythmic jerking or stiffening of your child’s arms and legs. The child may cry out initially.
  • Eyes rolled back in the child’s head.
  • Lack of consciousness.
  • Twitches in only a part of the body, such as an arm or a leg, or only on the right or the left side.
  • Usually occur on the first day of a fever. Parents may not even know the child is ill.
  • Rectal temperatures higher than 102ºF (39ºC).
  • Simple febrile seizure stops by itself in a few seconds to 10 minutes. Complex febrile seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs in one part of the body, or recurs during the same illness.
  • Child may be confused or drowsy after a seizure.

CAUSES

Exact cause is unknown. The high fever, and possibly one that rises quickly, may trigger a brain disturbance.

RISK INCREASES WITH

  • Children ages 6 months to 6 years.
  • Slightly more common in boys than girls.
  • Very high fever or a rapidly rising temperature.
  • A history of febrile seizures in other family members.
  • Rarely, fever and seizure occurs after a vaccination.
  • Risk factors for recurrent seizures include:
    • Young age (less than 15 months) for the first seizure.
    • Family members with a history of febrile seizures.
    • Fever was below 102ºF (39ºC) at time of first seizure.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

  • None for a first febrile seizure. There is no way to know for sure if a child is at risk.
  • Fever-reducing drugs may help reduce future risk.
  • Certain children with recurrent febrile seizures are sometimes given preventive drugs.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

  • Outcome is usually excellent, with no lasting effects.
  • The child will not be aware of having had the seizure.
  • Most children who have febrile seizures will outgrow them by four to five years of age.
  • Febrile seizures do not cause brain damage.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

  • Injury may result from bumping or falling into objects.
  • There is a very small risk that certain children who have febrile seizures will develop epilepsy.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Medical care may include emergency room treatment or seeing your child’s health care provider. Either way, your child will be examined and questions asked about the seizure symptoms. Medical tests may be done to be sure there is not a more serious illness causing the fever.
  • Reassurance to parents about the benign nature (not serious) of the seizure should help ease concerns.
  • If a febrile seizure recurs, follow these instructions:
    • Stay calm!
    • Do not put anything in your child’s mouth.
    • Place your child on his/her side to help drain saliva from the mouth. Don’t try to hold your child still.
    • Loosen clothing.
    • Move objects away from your child to avoid injury.
    • Support child’s head with a pillow or other soft object.
    • Try to watch a clock so you can time the seizure.

MEDICATIONS

  • Drugs may be prescribed for any infection present.
  • In rare cases, drugs may be prescribed for prevention.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the first sign of fever. Don’t give aspirin to children.

ACTIVITY

Allow your child rest or sleep after a seizure.

DIET

No special diet.

NOTIFY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF

  • Your child has another febrile seizure.
  • Any febrile seizure lasts more than 15 minutes.
  • Your child seems to be looking or acting ill, more so than when first examined.
  • You have any concerns about your child’s symptoms.

Disclaimer:Content from: Moore, Griffith’s Instructions for Patients. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.The contents are for informational purposes only and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Wapmed does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned here.