Febrile Convulsions

Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/02/2001  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What are febrile convulsions?

Convulsions (fits) that occur at the time of high fever are known as febrile convulsions or febrile seizures. These febrile seizures are commonly seen in children between 6 months to 6 years and are generally harmless. They occur with high fever (usually at temperature >40oC), but may also be seen at a lower temperature when there is a sudden rise in body temperature. These fits usually last for 1 to 10 minutes.

What is the cause of febrile convulsions?

Fever itself is the cause of convulsions. Fever may be due to an infection in any part of the body.

What is the treatment of febrile convulsions?

Since fever is the cause of convulsions, the most important part is to bring down the child's fever as quickly as possible. This will shorten the seizure duration. Sponging the entire body of the child with water (cool) will bring down the temperature quickly. Drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are given once the convulsion stops to keep the fever in control.

Anticonvulsants are usually not required for a long-term basis. Injection of Diazepam/Midazolam may be given by your doctor at the time of convulsion to break the fit.

What should I do when my child is convulsing?

Once you find that your child is convulsing, the mouth should be cleared with a finger to prevent choking. The child should be placed on his side or abdomen to drain secretions. Do not try to restrain your child or stop seizure movements. Do not try to hold his tongue as it may lead to injury. Call for medical assistance immediately.

Look for danger signs:

  • Stiff neck
  • Child is confused, altered, and lethargic.
  • Child is drowsy and is difficult to awaken after a seizure
  • Child is very sick
  • Child's seizure is more than 10 minutes
  • Child has more than one episode of seizure.

If the above signs are present, bring the child to the hospital immediately as convulsion may be due to other causes apart from fever. What are the chances of a febrile convulsion recurring again?

Most of the children have just one febrile convulsion in their lifetime whereas few may have 2 to 3 recurrences over the next few years but most outgrow the problem by 6 years of age. 3% of children may develop epilepsy.

Are there any complications of febrile convulsion?

Febrile convulsions are usually harmless and do not cause any brain damage unless in few exceptional cases the fit is unusually prolonged. Thus, the importance of bringing down temperature urgently and controlling the fits as soon as possible.

Is there any way I can prevent my child from getting a febrile convulsion?

If your child is known to be prone to a convulsion during fever, you can give paracetamol or ibuprofen as soon as your child develops a fever. This will prevent fever from rising - the most important trigger for a febrile convulsion. If fever still rises, tepid sponging with cold water will keep the body temperature under control.

If the child has too frequent a convulsion, diazepam syrup under a doctor's supervision can be given to prevent a seizure.

At the time of seizure, a diazepam suppository can be inserted through the anus to shorten the seizure.

Febrile Convulsions Febrile Convulsions https://www.pediatriconcall.com/show_article/default.aspx?main_cat=pediatric-neurology&sub_cat=febrile-convulsions&url=febrile-convulsions-patient-education 2015-08-01
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