Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Seizures can happen to anyone at any age and at any time. They can be quite scary to watch but are mostly not harmful.
Seizures can happen after a head injury, an infection, due to epilepsy, febrile convulsion or other unknown causes.
Not many parents are familiar with the term febrile seizures. When expectant or new parents first hear about the condition at my first aid classes and find out what a common childhood condition it is, they tend to become worried. I don’t want to frighten parents during my classes, but to advise them on most common medical emergencies and give them the knowledge and skills needed to deal with these emergencies.
Febrile seizures or convulsions can be really frightening and often a distressing experience for parents. They are common in under 5-year olds and most often happen between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. As a young child’s brain is not fully developed, this can lead to seizures. They can’t regulate their body temperature very well, so if they have a fever and their temperature gets too high, this may result in febrile seizure.
Parents should be aware that babies are easily overheated in car seats. It is also important to remember the risk of raised body temperature when children are in and out of supermarkets, especially when they have many layers on. It is also important to monitor their room temperature. It is recommended that the room temperature should be between 16-20°C.
1 in 20 children have a febrile seizure but not everyone is aware of what it is or how to deal with it. A temperature above 38°C is considered a fever. Febrile seizures may occur when children have a temperature of 38°C and above. This can be due to an illness such as chicken pox, flu, diarrhoea, tonsillitis, ear infections or vaccinations. It can look frightening when a baby or a child is having a febrile seizure. Their body goes stiff, twitches and they are usually unresponsive during this period. They will have a pale and hot flushed skin, may become sick, foam from the mouth and their eyes may roll upwards. The seizures can last up to five minutes.
As parents, the key is to remain as calm and rational as possible. What would you do if you were hot and had a fever? Thinking about it logically will help knowing what to do when your child is experiencing a febrile seizure. Do not put anything in their mouth and do not try to stop them from having convulsions. Keep them safe by protecting their head with pillows, cushions to prevent futher injury. Keep a note of how long the seizure lasts. Cool them down by removing additional layers of clothing and cool their room, by opening a window. Place them in recovery position on their sides once the seizure has ended. Afterwards they may want to sleep for several hours.
Seizures are generally not harmful, but it is important to have your baby or child checked by a medical professional, as this could also be a sign of a condition that is more serious. If the seizure is beyond 5 minutes, dial 999 for an ambulance. Monitor their breathing and level of response while waiting for the ambulance.
Written by Fi Ramos, Public Health Nurse & First Aid Instructor at Act2care.
Information on this site is evidence based and provided to create awareness and advice only. If you are worried about a condition, seek medical advice.
Theoretical first aid tips are beneficial, however practical demonstrations and exercises are necessary for gaining high standard of first aid knowledge and skills.
If you are interested in gaining first aid skills, contact Fi to find our more about our paediatric first aid classes at firstname.lastname@example.org