A febrile seizure is a convulsion triggered by an erratic electrical activity in the brain nerve cells brought about by fever. Babies and children often have ailments that are accompanied by fever. An episode of fever might instigate a seizure at some point during childhood.
The precise cause of a febrile seizure is not known. The seizures might arise if the temperature of the child rises or drops rapidly. In most cases, a seizure could not be predicted or prevented. Additionally, a febrile seizure might run in families.
Some of the indications that might arise include the following, but remember that not all will be present:
- Fever that is high
- Generalized muscular contraction and rigidity that typically lasts for 15-20 seconds
- Loss of consciousness or fainting lasting 30 seconds to 5 minutes
- Violent rhythmic muscle contractions and relaxation that lasts for 1-2 minutes
- Clenching of the teeth or jaw
- Biting the cheek or tongue
- Loss of control over stool or urine
- Rolling of the eyes back into the head
- Child is not breathing or has difficulty breathing during a seizure and bluish-tinged skin color
First aid for a febrile seizure
- Once a child starts having an episode, you should stay calm.
- Protect the child from further injury
- Do not attempt to hold or restrain the child down during a seizure
- Avoid putting anything in the mouth of the child
- Turn the child onto his/her side if vomiting occurs
- Loosen any tight or constricting clothing
- Support the head of the child using a soft object or pillow
- Note down the length of the seizure, types of movements and body parts affected
- Once the seizure settles, the child will be disoriented for a few minutes while the brain rests and recharges which is relatively normal.
How to manage a fever
- Provide the appropriate fever medication as instructed by the doctor
- Do not overdress or bundle up the child. The body loses heat via the skin. If the child is bundled up, the excess heat could not escape.
- Sponge the child using lukewarm water or place him/her in a shallow bathtub with 2-3 inches of water and drip water over his/her body. Avoid using alcohol or cold water to lower the fever.
- If the child starts to shiver or shake while in the bathtub, stop the bath and take him/her out from the bath water.
- Provide the child with plenty of fluids while having a fever to prevent dehydration.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on febrile seizure is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage a febrile seizure, register for a first aid and CPR course with Saskatoon First Aid.