A febrile seizure (or febrile convulsion) is a seizure that happens in young children in response to having a fever. They are very scary for parents, but normally stop after a few minutes and aren’t associated with other problems with kid’s health. A febrile seizure may be the first sign that your child is unwell.
What Happens During a Febrile Seizure?
Some children respond to having a fever by having a febrile convulsion. This is when the child becomes unconscious and shakes all over. The shaking is generally very vigorous and doesn’t stop when you hold their arms or legs.
Febrile seizures occur between the ages of 6 months and 6 years.
The convulsion may last a few seconds, but it may last as long as a few minutes. Normally febrile seizures stop by themselves.
During the convulsion the child may be incontinent (they may do a wee). Afterwards they will be very sleepy.
If you have never seen a febrile seizure before they can be very scary. Most people call an ambulance when they occur.
- Shaking all over and unresponsive.
- May do a wee.
- Sleepy afterwards.
- Stop within a 5 minutes.
Is it a Seizure or a Rigor?
Some children have ‘rigors’ when they have a temperature which is a bit like shivering. Rigors do generally stop when you hold their arm or leg. Children are normally responsive when they have rigors.
Are Febrile Seizures Dangerous?
The febrile convulsion in itself is not harmful and when people become used to them they often don’t feel the need to take their child to hospital. However, as with a simple fever, it depends on the cause as to how serious the situation is.
What Should I do if My Child has a Febrile Seizure?
- STAY CALM
- Make sure that your child is on a safe surface and can’t fall and hurt themselves.
- Lay them on their side to prevent choking.
- Watch for breathing problems.
- Do not try to restrain them.
- Do not try to put things in their mouth
- Do not try to give them medicine unless you have been told to by a health care professional.
- If it is their first febrile convulsion, take your child to the doctor.
The worst thing about your child having a febrile seizure is that there isn’t really much for you to do other than call the ambulance if you need to.
When Should I call an Ambulance if My Child has a Febrile Convulsion?
- If they are under 6 months or over 6 years.
- If it lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- If they are having breathing problems.
- If it is only in one part of the body.
- If they normally have febrile seizures but this one is different.
- If there are signs of serious illness.
- If there are signs of dehydration.
- If you are worried.
What is it Like When Your Child Has a Febrile Seizure?
I know that it must be really scary as a parent to watch your child have a febrile convulsion. Here’s a great account of just how scary it is.
Febrile Seizures Run in Families
Febrile seizures run in families and if your child has had a febrile seizure, they are likely to have another one.
Remember that a febrile seizure is more bark than bite; it is very scary but normally not harmful.
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