Febrile seizures – what you need to know

Have you heard of febrile seizures? I certainly hadn’t that hot summer’s day watching a charity cricket match, when my 14-month-old son went blue, limp, his eyes rolled back into his head and my entire world felt like it had collapsed. Scary is an understatement. Firstly, because I honestly thought I was about to lose my child. Secondly, because I had absolutely no idea on earth what was happening.

Febrile seizures – what you need to know

Now I know he had a febrile seizure. At the time I had never heard of this, which made the experience absolutely terrifying. While no one wants to see their child suffering in any way, shape or form, if I’d had some knowledge of what a febrile seizure was, it would have made all the difference that day.

 

What is a febrile seizure?

Otherwise known as febrile convulsions, febrile seizures are fits that can happen to a child when they have a fever. Most commonly, they happen between the ages of six months and three years. While it can be very distressing and frightening to see your child having a seizure, they are usually harmless and most children will make a complete recovery.

 

What causes a febrile seizure?

Although the exact cause is unknown, seizures are linked to a high temperature (38c or above) and there may also be a genetic link. Most cases of high temperature or fever are caused by an infection, such as chickenpox, flu or tonsillitis.

 

What are the signs?

Usually, a seizure will last for no more than five minutes. Some of the signs include your child becoming stiff, and their legs and arms may twitch. Sometimes they can lose consciousness, wet or soil themselves, vomit and foam at the mouth. Their eyes might also roll back. Sometimes, a seizure could last for 15 minutes or more and may only affect one area of the body – these are known as complex febrile seizures.

 

What to do during a seizure

Place your child in the recovery position, stay with them and make a note of how long the seizure lasts. Don’t try to put anything in your child’s mouth as they may bite their tongue. You should take your child to hospital or call 999 if they’re having a seizure for the first time; it lasts longer than five minutes and shows no signs of stopping; you suspect it may be caused by a serious illness such as meningitis, or your child is having breathing difficulties.

 

While it’s unlikely that anything’s seriously wrong, it’s important to get your child checked. For further information about febrile seizures please speak to your midwife or GP.

 

Please note: this is merely a source of guidance and you should always seek medical help if you are worried about your child.

Source: NHS – Febrile Seizures