As the body temperature controls of very small children are not fully developed, they are the ones who are prone to frequent fevers. Occurrence of fits as a result of high fever is a common phenomenon with children. These fits are known as febrile convulsions.
These fits or seizures occur in a child with high fever of over 102.2°F (39°C). These febrile convulsions generally occur at an early stage of other infections like viral infections, respiratory infections, etc where the fever rises rapidly.
Though febrile convulsion affects about 1 out of 20 children in the age group of one to four years, it rarely takes a serious turn.
A lot of children suffer from febrile convulsions at one point of their childhood or the other. This is caused by an electrical system in the brain which fails to cope with the rising temperature as it remains less matured at that time.
There are certain conditions that can trigger off febrile convulsions, or increases its chances. They are as follows:
High temperature and a rapid rise in temperature
Inherit from parents or genetically predisposed to it
If elder siblings have suffered from it
Frequent infections and illness
If first attack of febrile convulsion was accompanied by a relatively low body temperature, that is below 102.2°F
After receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. But this is very rare.
The common symptoms of febrile convulsions seen in children are
Brief seizures or fits (one minute to a maximum of five minutes)
Loss of consciousness
Stops breathing for about 30 seconds
Loses control of their bladder or bowel
Twitching or spasms of limbs and face muscles too
Rolling of the eyes upwards
The head is thrown backwards and the arms and legs begin to jerk
The skin becomes pale and sometimes turns blue for few seconds
The child falls asleep after the fit stops and remains irritable and confused after waking up.
The febrile convulsions do not generally lead to much of complications except frightening the people around the child. But it also increases the risk of another attack during the same illness or later. If febrile convulsion occurs before the age of one year, and if there is a family history, then the probability of recurrence remains.
The most important complication out of febrile convulsion is development of epilepsy, though this is very rare and occurs to those who suffer from febrile convulsions more frequently and for a longer period of time.
There is no such treatment for febrile convulsions since this is a natural occurrence with a lot of children. However, certain methods can be adopted as follows:
Try and stop the child from hurting himself, but do not hold him tightly.
Do not put anything in their mouth, not even water.
Place them in a recovery position
Call the doctor
Cool the room to bring the temperature down
Loosen their clothes
Turn the child’s head sideways to prevent choking
If the child has suffered from convulsions before, diazepam is given through rectum using a rectal tube.
After the attack, some doctors advice mild painkillers or paracetamol to bring down the temperature
Prompt medical treatment and hospitalization might be required for some children
No matter how frightening these febrile convulsions might seem to be, they rarely cause any long term injury. But if it occurs frequently, then mild brain dysfunction can occur.
Certain measures can be taken to lower the risk of febrile convulsion attacks, like:
Keeping a close check on the child suffering from high temperature
Temperature lowering medicines can be given
Keeping medicines like diazepam in hand
Consult the doctor immediately, and hospitalize the child if necessary.