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febrile convulsion: what to do when your child convulses

Febrile Convulsion; What To Do When Your Child Convulses

September 22, 2017 - Olusanya Omokorede

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Febrile convulsion is a form of convulsion which is a sudden, violent, irregular movement of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles in association with elevated temperature (>38oC). Febrile convulsion occurs in children from 6 months to 5 years. It is the most common cause of convulsion in children.

Children who have a febrile seizure are at risk of having another febrile seizure; the recurrence rate is approximately 30 to 35 percent. The majority of febrile seizures occur in children between 12 and 18 months of age. Febrile seizures occur in 2 to 4 percent of children younger than five years old.

 

SIGN AND SYMPTOMS OF FEBRILE CONVULSION

The symptoms of febrile convulsion include;

  • Fever
  • Possible Loss of consciousness.
  • Muscle stiffness or jerking.
  • Your child may go red or blue in the face.

The convulsion may last for several minutes. When the movements stop, the child will regain consciousness but will probably remain sleepy or irritated afterwards.

 

TYPES OF FEBRILE CONVULSION

Febrile convulsion can be classified as; simple convulsion, complex convulsion and symptomatic convulsion.

In simple convulsion the convulsion lasts less than 15 minutes, Fever (and seizure) is not caused by meningitis, encephalitis, or any other illness affecting the brain and the child has no neurologic condition prior to the convulsion. The seizure usually affects the whole body.

For complex convulsion, the seizure can affect just a part of the body or the whole body, lasting more than 15 minutes. Multiple seizures can occur in close concession.

 

DIAGNOSIS

There is no specific test for diagnosis of convulsion and the diagnosis is symptomatic. It is important the cause of the convulsion is discovered and treated. Various diseases that can cause febrile convulsion include;

  • Parasitic infection; such as Malaria
  • Bacterial infection such as Shigella and Campylobacter bacteria, which cause gastroenteritis (e.g., diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever)
  • Viral infections; measles, influenza A virus which causes flu.
  • Immunization; Fever can occur as a side effect of certain vaccines, particularly after measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccination. The fever typically occurs 8 to 14 days after the injection.

TREATMENT

Here are procedures to follow when your child experiences seizure.

  • Basic first aid should be given by caregiver before presentation in the hospital.
  • It is important you remove all dangerous structures around the child when the child is convulsing.
  • If you can, roll your child gently on his side or roll his head to the side so that any fluids can drain out of his mouth. This also helps the tongue to fall to the side away from the teeth.
  • Try to put something soft like a folded jacket under your child’s head. Remove any tight clothing, especially around your child’s neck. Remove glasses so they do not break.
  • Do NOT try to put anything in your child’s mouth. This could cause choking or broken teeth which can be aspirated into the lungs and cause choking.
  • Your child’s doctor will want to know how long the seizure lasts. If you can, look at a clock or your watch to see when the seizure starts and ends.
  • Take your child once the seizure aborts to the hospital where history of previous infection is taken. Doctors in the hospital can conduct tests and give treatment.

 

THINGS TO AVOID

When your child experiences convulsion, don’t;

  • put any object in the mouth of the child as this can lead to breaking of a tooth and choking
  • insert the child’s leg in fire as this wouldn’t wake the child or stop the seizure but will lead to more harm to the child
  • hold the child down firmly to the ground
  • put salt or any food in the mouth
  • insert your finger into the child’s mouth as this will only hurt your fingers
  • Clenching of the teeth could be a part of the seizure. Its better you put the child of his/her left side to avoid aspiration and airway obstruction

HOW TO PREVENT CONVULSION IN CHILDREN

  • Always ensure you closely monitor your child
  • If you notice fever ensure you reduce the number of clothing of the child
  • Tepid sponge the child to reduce fever
  • Give cold water baths
  • Give paracetamol to help reduce the fever
  • If the fever persists after 3 days please take the child to see a doctor.(you can take the child to see a doctor before 3 days)

RISK OF REOCCURRENCE

The risk of recurrent febrile seizures is higher for children who:

  • Are young (less than 15 months)
  • Experience frequent fevers
  • Have a parent or sibling who had febrile seizures or epilepsy
  • Have a short time between the onset of fever and the seizure
  • Had a low degree of fever before their seizure

Note that febrile convulsion usually doesn’t lead to brain damage.

In conclusion, having a febrile seizure does not mean that a child has epilepsy; epilepsy is defined as having two or more seizures without fever present.

Olusanya Omokorede

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