Febrile seizures typically occur among young children during viral conditions in which the fever rises high abruptly. Approximately 2-5% of children have experienced febrile seizures. Children who have experienced it before has a minimal risk of developing regular seizures later in life.
Just remember that they are at risk for more episodes though. Luckily, many children eventually outgrow febrile seizures by the time they reach 5 years old. Take note that febrile seizures are not harmful and do not cause any damage to the brain.
What to do for febrile seizures?
Once a child experiences a febrile seizure, you have to remain calm and carefully monitor the child. You can prevent accidental injury by placing the child on a protected surface such as the floor or ground.
Avoid holding the child or restrained during a convulsion. You can prevent choking by positioning the child on his/her side or stomach. If possible, you have to gently remove all objects in the mouth. Do not put anything inside the mouth during a convulsion.
Objects that were placed in the mouth can be broken and clog up the airway of the child. In case a seizure persists longer than 10 minutes, the child must be taken right away to the nearest emergency department for further treatment. Once the seizure has stopped, the child must be taken to a doctor to determine the source of fever. Remember that it is urgent if the child has symptoms such as extreme lethargy, stiff neck or vomiting.
Medical care for febrile seizures
Even though febrile seizures are not harmful and do not require any treatment, an issue arises when the doctor is uncertain that the child is in fact experiencing a simple febrile seizure. Although a child has both a fever and seizure, it is oftentimes possible that the child has another underlying condition such as meningitis that causes both and the fever did not trigger the seizure. In such cases, further testing such as a spinal tap is performed especially in children younger than 12-18 months old. Urine tests and blood tests might be carried out in some cases.
Many children with simple febrile seizures who are not fussy and appear normal after a seizure do not require testing.
Prevention of febrile seizures
The best way to prevent febrile seizures is to ensure that the child will not get sick that might result to a fever in the first place. You can provide a fever-reducing medication at the initial sign of fever but it will not likely prevent a febrile seizure.
In some children who experience several episodes of febrile seizures, they are treated with diazepam at the initial sign of fever but this is not usually needed.