Febrile seizures are convulsions that can happen in a child who has a fever, which is a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher. These seizures often happen because of a sudden spike in body temperature and are most common in toddlers and young children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

Most febrile seizures last for less than a minute or two, although they can be as short as a few seconds or last for more than 15 minutes. During a febrile seizure, a child may lose consciousness, shake or jerk the arms and legs, or lose control of the bladder or bowels.

While they can be frightening to witness, febrile seizures are usually harmless and often don’t indicate a serious health problem. Most children outgrow febrile seizures by the time they are 5 years old. However, it’s important to seek medical attention the first time a child has a febrile seizure to rule out any underlying conditions.

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Causes of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are usually associated with a high body temperature but with no serious underlying health issue. They most often occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

Here are some possible causes and triggers:

1. Fever: It’s important to note that these seizures are related to the rise in body temperature, not necessarily the degree of fever. A rapid increase in body temperature, often due to an infection or following vaccination, can trigger a febrile seizure.

2. Infections: The most common cause of febrile seizures are viral infections such as the flu or chickenpox. Bacterial infections, which cause diseases like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, can also result in a high fever leading to a febrile seizure.

3. Genetics: There seems to be a genetic factor, as children are more likely to have febrile seizures if their parents or siblings have had them.

4. Immunizations: Certain vaccinations can cause a temporary fever, which can potentially trigger a febrile seizure. However, the risk is very low and the benefits of immunizations greatly outweigh the risks.

5. In some children, the brain’s neurons are more sensitive to temperature changes, which increases their risk of having a febrile seizure.

Remember, a febrile seizure doesn’t mean a child has epilepsy or brain damage, and it’s usually not indicative of an underlying serious illness. However, immediate medical attention should be sought to treat the fever and to ensure there is no serious condition causing the fever.

Risk Factors of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are convulsions in childhood triggered by high fever. They usually occur between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, with the highest risk at around 18 months. Some risk factors associated with febrile seizures are:

1. Family History: Children with parents or siblings who have had febrile seizures are more likely to have it themselves.

2. Age: The younger the child, the higher the risk. This is especially true for children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years.

3. Immunization: Certain vaccines, like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccines, may trigger a fever, which in turn can cause a febrile seizure in susceptible children.

4. Viral Infections: Certain viral infections, such as the flu or chickenpox, can increase the risk of febrile seizures due their fever-inducing nature.

5. Iron Deficiency: This is still under scientific speculation, but some studies suggest an iron deficiency could increase the risk of febrile seizures.

6. First Year of Life: Children who have had a high fever in the first year of their life are at a higher risk for febrile seizures.

7. Gender: Boys are slightly more likely to have febrile seizures than girls.

8. Developmental Issues: Children with neurological abnormalities, low birth weight, or other developmental problems have an increased risk.

It is important to remember that while these risk factors can increase chances, they do not necessarily mean your child will experience a febrile seizure. If a child does have a febrile seizure, it is also vital to know that they are generally harmless and do not typically lead to further health complications. Always consult with a doctor or medical professional for concerns or advice regarding this matter.

Signs and Symptoms of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are convulsions in young children that may be caused by a spike in body temperature. These often occur during fevers that result from infections or vaccinations, such as the common flu or chickenpox. Despite their alarming appearance, febrile seizures are usually harmless and typically don’t indicate a long-term or ongoing condition. Here are some signs and symptoms:

1. Fever: High fever, usually 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, is normally the first sign.

2. Unconsciousness: The child may lose consciousness, which is often the first indication of an impending seizure.

3. Convulsions: The child’s arms and legs may shake uncontrollably. This typically lasts for a minute or two, but can continue for up to 15 minutes.

4. Moaning or crying: The child may make sounds, show unusual eye movements, drool, or grunting.

5. Loss of bladder or bowel control: This can occur during or following a seizure.

6. Sleepiness or confusion: After a febrile seizure, children may seem lethargic, disoriented, or confused. This is known as the postictal state, and it usually subsides after a short rest.

Remember, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if your child experiences a seizure for the first time, if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if your child isn’t waking up or recovering after the seizure. Even after a shorter seizure, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor to determine the cause of the fever and to make sure it’s properly managed.

Diagnosis Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are convulsions or fits that can happen when a child has a fever, usually as a result of an infection. They are most common in toddlers between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. These seizures are generally harmless and typically don’t indicate a long-term or ongoing problem.

Febrile seizures can be frightening to witness, but they usually end without treatment and don’t cause other health problems. Having a febrile seizure does not mean a child has epilepsy, as epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that aren’t triggered by a fever.

There are two types of febrile seizures:

1. Simple febrile seizures: These are the most common type of febrile seizure and last from a few seconds to 15 minutes.

2. Complex febrile seizures: These seizures last longer than 15 minutes, occur more than once within 24 hours or are confined to one side of your child’s body.

The exact cause of febrile seizures isn’t clear, but they can be linked to certain viruses. Some children may be genetically predisposed to having febrile seizures.

If your child has a febrile seizure, the most important thing to do is to stay calm, make sure they are in a safe environment where they won’t hurt themselves and then contact a healthcare professional.

Treatment of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures, which are convulsions caused by a fever in infants or small children, can be quite alarming. However, most febrile seizures are over within a few minutes and don’t mean your child has epilepsy or brain damage.

Treatment for febrile seizures usually includes:

1. Fever reduction: If your child has a fever, you could use over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to bring it down. Remember to never use aspirin in children or teenagers because it’s associated with Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.

2. Observation: Most febrile seizures are relatively short and harmless. During a seizure, turn your child onto his or her side to prevent choking. Do not try to open your child’s clenched teeth or jaws during a seizure, as it could harm his or her mouth or your fingers.

3. Hospital treatment: If a seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes or if your child turns blue or has trouble breathing, call emergency services. In the hospital, besides treating the fever, doctors may try to identify and treat its underlying cause, like an infection. In some rare and severe cases, your child may be given an anticonvulsant medication to halt the seizure.

Preventive treatment for repeat febrile seizures is usually only considered if the child has multiple and long-lasting febrile seizures, a low threshold for having seizures, or other neurological problems. This treatment could include intermittent oral diazepam given only when the child has a fever, or continuous anticonvulsant medication given every day.

Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment procedures.

Medications commonly used for Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are typically associated with a high fever in children aged 6 months to 5 years. It’s important to note that these seizures are generally harmless and often don’t require long-term treatment with seizure medicines, because they don’t have lasting effects and don’t make it more likely that a child will develop epilepsy or other seizure disorders. The main treatment for febrile seizures is addressing the child’s fever and the illness causing the fever.

However, if a child has recurrent febrile seizures, a doctor might prescribe medication. The following are sometimes used:

1. Antipyretics: These are medications used to lower fever. They don’t prevent seizures but might be used as part of a treatment plan. Examples include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen.

2. Benzodiazepines: When used, it is typically on an as-needed basis rather than as daily ongoing therapy. Medications like diazepam (Valium) or lorazepam (Ativan) can be used to stop a prolonged seizure. They are often administered rectally or orally.

3. Antiepileptic drugs: These are not commonly used in the treatment of febrile seizures, because the side effects often outweigh the benefits. However, in rare circumstances, a doctor might prescribe daily antiepileptic drugs, like phenobarbital or sodium valproate, for a child with particularly severe or recurrent febrile seizures.

Febrile seizures

Regular use of seizure-preventing medications is usually reserved for children who have recurrent febrile seizures and a high risk of having epilepsy based on other neurological abnormalities, not just febrile seizures alone. Always follow the advice of a healthcare profession when it comes to managing febrile seizures in children.

Prevention of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are seizures or convulsions that occur in young children and are triggered by fever. These can be frightening, but in many cases, they’re harmless and often don’t indicate a serious health problem.

Here are some methods to prevent febrile seizures:

1. Lower the fever: If your child has a high temperature, one of the most effective ways to prevent a febrile seizure is to lower their fever. You can do this by placing a cool, damp washcloth on your child’s forehead or give them a lukewarm bath.

2. Medication: Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen can be used to help lower a fever. However, these medications won’t prevent febrile seizures from occurring and should be used sparingly, only if the child seems uncomfortable.

3. Hydration: Make sure the child is drinking plenty of fluids while they’re ill, as dehydration can make matters worse.

4. Stay cool: Dress your child in light clothing if they’re feeling overheated, and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

5. Medical supervision: If your child does have a febrile seizure, it’s important to take them to the doctor to be evaluated, especially if it’s their first time having a seizure. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe a medication to prevent seizures if they have a high fever.

6. Avoid infection: Since infections often cause fever, preventing infections can prevent fever and thus, febrile seizures. Vaccinations are a key tool in preventing infections.

Remember, while these methods may reduce the chances of an episode, they may not always prevent febrile seizures. Consult with your healthcare provider for tailored advice.

FAQ’s about Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures, or febrile convulsions, are seizures that happen in a child who has a fever. These seizures are usually harmless and often don’t indicate a serious health problem. Here are some frequently asked questions about febrile seizures:

1. What causes febrile seizures?
These seizures are linked to fevers, typically those over 102°F (38.9°C). They are often associated with common childhood illnesses, such as ear infections, colds, or the flu. It also tends to run in families.

2. Who does it affect?
Febrile seizures are most common in children aged between six months and five years, with the highest risk at 18 months.

3. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C), loss of consciousness, full-body shaking, or sometimes the child may become non-responsive or stare blankly.

4. How long do febrile seizures last?
They are usually brief, lasting a couple of minutes or less. However, they can last up to 15 minutes.

5. What should parents/guardians do during a seizure?
A child having a febrile seizure should be placed on their side in a safe area free from sharp objects. They should not be restrained and nothing should be inserted in their mouth. After the seizure is over, the child should be brought to a healthcare provider for evaluation.

6. How are febrile seizures treated?
Usually, febrile seizures will end by themselves and do not require medication unless the seizures are longer or more frequent.

7. Are there any long-term effects or complications from febrile seizures?
Most children who have had a febrile seizure do not have any complications. However, a small number of children may develop epilepsy, a condition featuring recurrent seizures.

8. Can febrile seizures be prevented?
Although fever-reducing medicine might prevent some febrile seizures, they are not typically recommended only to prevent febrile seizures.

It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider for any concerns related to febrile seizures.

Useful links

Febrile seizures occur in infants and small children in conjunction with high fevers. These are convulsions that happen when a child’s body temperature rises too rapidly, typically from infections. Although frightening for parents, they are usually short (under five minutes) and rarely trigger long-term health problems.

The following are some useful links from reputable scientific journals about febrile seizures:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24484859/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30932454/

Please note that the articles may require a subscription to view the full text. Consultancies with healthcare professionals are advised for medical advice about febrile seizures; these links should be used for informative purposes.

Complications of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures, also known as fevers fits, are caused by a rapid increase in body temperature and typically pacifically occur in children between the ages of six months and six years. While usually harmless and not indicating a long-term issue, complications can occur under certain circumstances:

1. Prolonged Seizures: If a febrile seizure lasts more than 15 minutes, it’s considered a complex febrile seizure. These longer seizures can increase a child’s risk for epilepsy, a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

2. Recurrence: About one-third of children who have had a febrile seizure will have another one with a future fever.

3. Status Epilepticus: In rare cases, febrile seizures can last longer than 30 minutes. This condition, referred to as status epilepticus, is a medical emergency and can potentially lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

4. Development of Epilepsy: If a child experiences a complex febrile seizure, they have a slightly increased risk of developing epilepsy. But remember, most febrile seizures are simple, and kids recover completely.

5. Emotional Impact: Febrile seizures can be incredibly frightening for parents and caregivers. Anxious or traumatised feelings are common in the aftermath of such incidents.

It is crucial to note that while these complications sound scary, the majority of children who have febrile seizures do not experience adverse effects or long-term complications. The chances of a child developing ongoing epilepsy or suffering neurological damage are extremely low. However, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention if your child experiences a seizure to rule out any underlying conditions that might need treatment.

Home remedies of Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are convulsions in children that are often caused by a sudden spike in body temperature, usually from an infection. While frightening, most febrile seizures are harmless, last only a few minutes, and don’t indicate any long-term health problems.

You should always seek immediate medical care when child has a seizure. However, here are some steps you can take at home if your child has febrile seizures:

1. Keep Them Safe: Clear the area around the child of anything hard or sharp to prevent injury.

2. Position Correctly: Lay your child on their side or stomach to prevent them from swallowing or choking on their spit or vomit.

3. Observe: Try to note the duration of the seizure and the type of movements the child has, as this can be important information for a healthcare provider.

4. Stay Calm: It’s crucial for you to stay calm to provide the best care for your child.

5. Do Not Interfere: Never put anything in the child’s mouth during a convulsion. Contrary to popular belief, people cannot swallow their tongues during a seizure.

After the seizure, your child might be sleepy or confused. Let them rest and recover. Offer fluids to ensure they stay hydrated.

Additionally, targeted effort should be made to identify and treat the cause of the fever such as infections.

It is also important to keep a fever under control. This can be achieved by:

1. Keeping the child hydrated by giving them plenty of fluids.
2. Using a cool washcloth on the child’s forehead or back.
3. Dressing them lightly.
4. Using fever reducing medication (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Always consult a doctor or pharmacist regarding appropriate dosages.

Remember, while febrile seizures are usually harmless, they can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical attention. Always consult with healthcare professional for medical advice for your child’s specific situation.

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Infections,

Last Update: January 5, 2024