Febrile Seizures

What's on your Mind? - February 2019
What is a Febrile Seizure

I am going to discuss different topics regularly which I have been asked about in my courses as participants have said they have concerns. This month I am going to talk about Febrile Seizures; what they are, what the signs of one are, what to do if someone you know has one and some prevention tactics..
So.. What is a Febrile Seizure?
A febrile seizure or convulsion is a type of fit which happens when a child gets too hot or has a fever. They usually happen to a child between the age of six months and three years. It can be super scary to see, particularly if it is for the first time but the important thing to remember is that they are usually harmless and almost all children recover fully afterwards.
What are the signs of a Febrile Seizure?
A febrile seizure usually lasts less than five minutes. During this time the child can do any of the following:

  • Lose consciousness
  • Become stiff and arms / legs start to twitch
  • Wet or soil themselves
  • Vomit or foam at the mouth
  • Eyes roll to the back of their head

After a seizure they can become sleepy for up to an hour.

Most children will only have one febrile seizure but occasionally some children will have multiple seizures within a 24 hour period or the period the child is ill. Also, it is worth knowing that very occasionally seizures last longer than 15 minutes and may only affect one side of the body.

What do I do if someone I know has a Febrile Seizure?

If your child is having a Febrile Seizure you should place them in the recovery position. To do this you:

  • Have the child lying on their back with their legs and arms out relatively straight
  • Put the arm nearest to you in a right angle to their body with the palm facing up
  • Take their other hand and bring it over to the cheek closest to you with the back of their own hand resting on their cheek. Keep your hand here holding it in place
  • With your other hand, lift their leg furthest from you at the knee and bend so it is at a right angle
  • Keeping your hand on their cheek, roll the casualty, using their bent knee, over onto their side
  • Unhook the bent leg from their other foot and put it in front so their body can’t fall back
  • Open their airway by tilting their head back and lifting their chin and check that nothing is blocking their airway
  • Stay with them and monitor their condition until help arrives or they finish their seizure
  • For a baby, you can put them in the recover position by holding them across your lap facing you. This allows you to monitor them and ensure their airway is open.

Above you can see a photo showing one of my participants getting a casualty into the position as well as the baby recovery position. You can also watch this great NHS video showing the full process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRQePNmR66w.

Make sure you stay with the child whilst they are having the seizure and take a note of how long it lasts and what actually happened. Make sure any dangers are out of their way whilst they are fitting and don’t be tempted to put anything in their mouth.

It is important to call an ambulance or take your child to the nearest hospital if:

When your child finishes a seizure they may be scared and tired so try to keep them in the recovery position and talk calmly too them and reassure.

Prevention Tactics

Whilst the majority of Febrile Seizures are caused by fever, the parents I spoke to last month found their worries were around overheating as this is where they had encountered the seizure. In the winter in particular it is easy to bundle your child up in lots of clothes as you are worried about them getting cold. When we put children into a car in particular we can put lots of clothing on them and they overheat as the car warms up / they warm up in their car seat.

My biggest tip for this is to layer and layer with clothes that are easy to take off. If you are putting a child in a car why not put their normal clothes on but with a hat and a blanket over them. As you are driving and the car warms up you can then easily pull their hat off and take the blanket away to help normalise their temperature. If you are worried about a seizure through fever don’t be tempted to dose your child up on paracetamol or Calpol to prevent a temperature as research has shown this isn’t likely to prevent a seizure. Instead, go and see your GP or call 111 to discuss your worries and look into the issue further.

Most children will only have one febrile seizure but occasionally some children will have multiple seizures within a 24 hour period or the period the child is ill. Also, it is worth knowing that very occasionally seizures last longer than 15 minutes and may only affect one side of the body.

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