A febrile seizure occurs in a child with fever, usually among aged 6 months up to 3 years. Remember that it has a tendency to run in families. An episode usually lasts less than 15 minutes.
What are the types?
- Simple – the whole body shakes less than 15 minutes. Most episodes of febrile seizures are categorized as simple.
- Complex – the entire body shakes for more than 15 minutes but only on one side of the body or an episode occurs at least 2 times within 24 hours. Those who develop this type are likely to develop a seizure disorder later in childhood.
A febrile seizure typically results from a fever. In most cases, the fever is triggered by an otherwise minor infection such as an ear infection or viral respiratory infection. In such instances, the infection and the seizure are harmless. Nevertheless, dangerous brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis can also cause seizures.
Children who have fever and a seizure for the first time or appear very sick must be taken to the nearest emergency department for assessment.
Some children can experience additional episodes of a febrile seizure but usually a few. Children are likely to suffer from additional seizures, especially those below a year old when they had the first episode or if they have family members who had febrile seizures.
Management of a febrile seizure
In most instances, a febrile seizure lasts less than 15 minutes and treatment is not required other than medications to minimize the fever. In case a seizure persists for 15 minutes or more, the doctor will provide medications to put an end to the episode.
The drugs that prevent additional seizures are typically given to children who had only a few episodes of febrile seizures. Nevertheless, children who had several episodes of febrile seizures or those that last for a long time can be given these medications. If a child had a long episode, the doctor will prescribe a diazepam gel that is applied on the rectum if an ensuing seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.
If a child had a febrile seizure, parents must monitor and deal with high fevers that can instigate an episode.