Febrile Fits in Children – Body Temperature Matters!
Written by Pliro
Feb 8, 2018 Last updated: Feb 8, 2018
“I am a mother of three, sharing my thoughts on fever in children. One day our 3-year old daughter suffered from a viral infection causing high fever that suddenly led to a febrile convulsion. I sat at her bed, taking the temperature every hour. But still, I could not see the seizure coming until it did, I couldn’t help but panic.”
What are Febrile Seizures?
Febrile fits are convulsions that occur in children as a result of fever. There is a sudden change in the child’s body temperature, usually associated with fever, a temperature more than 38°C. The fever may accompany common childhood illnesses. In some cases, the child may not have a fever but develop it a few hours later. Febrile fits commonly affect infants and young children. Children between the ages of about 6 months and 5 years old are the most likely to experience febrile seizures.
During the seizure, children can lose consciousness. Both arms and legs shake uncontrollably. Muscles stiffen. Children may go red or blue in the face. Less common symptoms include eye rolling, rigid limbs, twitching on a portion of the body. Most febrile fits last for only a few minutes. Breathing can be irregular and children may vomit or produce foam in the mouth.
Causes and Associations
Febrile seizures are caused by fever indicating infection. The cause of fever is often a viral illness. The risk of febrile fit increases after some childhood immunizations such as the diphtheria, tetanus, measles, and mumps. A child can develop a low-grade fever after a vaccination. The fever, not the vaccination, causes the seizure. An association with iron deficiency has been reported, particularly in the developing world. Several genetic associations have also been identified. Approximately 40 percent of children who experience one febrile seizure will have a recurrence. Children at highest risk for recurrence are those who have a family history of febrile fits.
Tests are carried out to evaluate that the seizures are not caused by serious illness for e.g. meningitis. An infection of the membranes surrounding the brain can cause both fever and seizures that can look like febrile seizure. Dehydration could be responsible for seizures. Blood and urine tests are done to diagnose the cause of fever.
Management of the Fit
It is crucial that everyone remains calm. Start time of the fit should be noted. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call an ambulance. Gradually place the child on a protected surface to prevent accidental injury. Do not hold the child during the fit. Position the child on its stomach to prevent choking. Gently remove any objects from the child’s mouth as these objects may make breathing difficult.
Seek medical attention if this is the child’s first febrile seizure and take the child to the doctor once the seizure ends.
Mostly febrile fits don’t cause any long-term damage. During the seizure, there’s a small chance of the child getting injured by falling or choking. Children who experience generalized febrile fits are likely to develop epilepsy.
The topic puts an emphasis on the importance of continuous body temperature measurements. Parents should not ignore a rise their child’s body temperature, take note of it and lower the body temperature to avoid febrile seizures.