Febrile Seizure

1 What is Febrile Seizure?

A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child that may occur as a result of a spike in the body temperature, mostly due to an infection.

These seizures are usually harmless and does not show an underlying problem.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of febrile seizure vary from mild to severe.

Symptoms may include:

  • Having a body temperature higher than 100.4 F (38.0 C)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shaky hands or legs

Febrile seizures can be classified into simple and complex.

  • Simple febrile seizures usually last from a few seconds to 15 minutes. They do not recur within 24 hors and are not specific to one part of the body.
  • Complex seizures last longer than 24 hours and usually occur more than once in a period of 24 hours. These seizures are usually confined to one part of the child's body.

Sometimes seizures can be accompanied by vomiting, a stiff neck, trouble breathing and extreme sleepiness.

3 Causes

The most common cause of febrile seizures is viral infections like flu an roseola which are usually accompanied by a high fever.

Febrile seizres usually occur as a result of a high body temperature.

The risk of seizures can also increase after some childhood immunizations against diphtheria, mumps, tetanus and measles.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The following tests are carried out in the diagnosis of simple febrile seizures:

  • A blood test
  • Urine test
  • Spinal tap to find out whether the child has a nervous system infection like meningitis.

Complex seizure can be diagnosed by using an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure the electrical activity of the brain.

An MRI to check the child's brain can also be used especially if only one side of the body is affected.

5 Treatment

The majority of febrile seizures stop on their own within a few minutes without any treatment.

Seizures that last longer than 10 minutes require emergency medical attention.

Seizures that last longer than 15 minutes or are accompanied by infections that cannot be localized require further observation.

6 Prevention

The only way to prevent a febrile seizure is to prevent fever.

Most febrile seizures occur during the first few hours of a fever.

Drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can be given at the beginning of the fever since they decrease the fever, although they do not prevent seizures .

Caution should be taken when administering aspirin to children because it has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.

Sometimes anticonvulsive drugs like diazepam (Valium) can be prescribed to children who are at a risk of developing febrile seizures.

They are mostly used to prevent complex seizures. Because these medications have serious side effects they are rarely used.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary for your child in order to cope with febrile seizure.

If a child has a febrile seizure it is important to stay calm and do the following:

  • Staying close and comforting the child
  • Removing hard or sharp objects near the child
  • Loosening tight clothes
  • Avoid restraining the child's movements
  • Avoiding putting things in the child's mouth
  • Timing the duration of the seizure

8 Risks and Complications

The risk factors for developing febrile seizures include:

  • Being between 6 months to 5 years of age
  • Having a family history of febrile seizures

The majority of febrile seizures do not produce long lasting effects.

Simple febrile seizures do not cause brain damage, mental retardation or learning disabilities. They do not indicate a serious underlying condition like epilepsy. One complication that is associated with febrile sezures is recurrence.

The following increase the chances of a child having recurrent febrile seizures:

  • If the fisrt seizure resulted from a low fever
  • If the period between the start of the fever and the seizure was short
  • A family history of febrile seizures
  • The child was younger than 15 months at the time of the first febrile seizure