Febrile seizures are the convulsions that occur in young children aged between 3 months to 3 years due to very high fever. Most of the febrile seizures last for 1-2 minutes. However, they can sometimes occur for a brief period of about a few seconds or may last for as long as even 15 minutes or more. Febrile seizures usually occur on the first day of the onset of fever.
Febrile seizures are classified into the following two types:
Symptoms of febrile seizures include the following:
Additionally, simple febrile seizures may lead to confusion or tiredness after the seizure while complex febrile seizures may cause a temporary weakness in one arm or one leg.
Usually, after the seizures, the child may fall asleep for about an hour or more.
Febrile seizures occur when there is a rapid increase in the body temperature of the child associated with an infection or an illness. However, it is not linked to the severity of fever. Usually, febrile seizures occur even before the illness is recognized because they occur on the first day of the illness. The causes of febrile seizures may include:
A family history of febrile seizures is the major risk factor that increases the likelihood of a child to develop the condition.
Usually, febrile seizures do not produce long-term health issues. However, they can lead to anxiety in the parents or caretakers. Simple seizures do not cause brain damage, learning difficulty or mental retardation and they do not indicate a serious underlying problem.
Also, febrile seizures do not generally mean that the child has epilepsy, i.e. development of recurrent seizures. Recurrence of febrile seizures is more common if:
The diagnosis of this condition is based on the description given by the parents.
If the exact cause of the illness is not clear, then the doctor may recommend certain blood or urine tests.
The below-mentioned tests may be required in case of complex febrile seizures especially in children aged less than 12 months or if the symptoms are unusual:
In infants and young children, the other possible causes of febrile seizures such as meningitis should be ruled out.
Simple febrile seizures stop within a few seconds to about 15 minutes even without treatment.
When the child develops febrile seizures the following measures should be taken by the parents or caretakers:
Call the doctor immediately if seizures do not stop even after 5 minutes or if the child is not breathing. Treatment of recurrent seizures involves anti-seizure medicines available in gel form usually for rectal application.
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