A febrile convulsion is a seizure or a fit associated with a spike in body temperature sometimes without any serious underlying health issues.
Febrile convulsions are most common in children up to the age of five and can be a frightening and distressing experience for any parent or caregiver - the few minutes it lasts can feel like an eternity, especially if it is the first one.
In most cases, a febrile convulsion is harmless and a majority of children make a full recovery shortly afterwards. However, it is extremely important to bring your child to the nearest emergency department for a check-up.
Sometimes children need to be treated for whatever caused the high temperature. A high temperature is anything considered over 38.0 C or 100.4 F.
Most febrile seizures occur between the age of 6 months and 5 years of age, with the greatest risk being between 12 months and 18 months.
Signs of a febrile seizure.
A fit or seizure usually lasts for less than five minutes and your child may:
- lose consciousness
- wet or soil themselves
- become stiff and their arms and legs might begin to twitch
- turn blue
- foam at the mouth
Following a seizure, your child may feel sleepy or limp and will want to rest. However, if the fit lasts for more than five minutes, another seizure begins soon after the first one or if your child is having breathing difficulties call an ambulance without delay.
What to do during a febrile seizure?
If your child is having a seizure, here is how you can help your child:
- Place your child in the recovery position.
- Make a note of the time the fit started.
- Do not put anything in your child's mouth.
- Do not shake your child or try to restrain them in any way.
- When the fit stops, hold your child close, comfort them and remove any outer layers of clothing.
What are the causes of a febrile convulsion?
While linked to high temperatures, the cause of febrile seizures is unknown but there may be a genetic link. If an immediate family member has a history of seizures there is a high chance of others having febrile convulsions.
High temperatures are caused by infection and some of the most common examples are viral infections, influenza, tonsillitis and chickenpox. A low-grade fever can also trigger a febrile seizure. In very rare cases, febrile seizures can happen after a child has a vaccination.