Your infant or toddler is sick with a fever, when all of a sudden, they have a seizure. What would you do?
"It's a scary situation for any parent," says Captain John Keizer with the Kent Fire Department.
Febrile seizures occur in children ages six months to five years old. They're triggered by sudden spike in temperature - usuall a fever of 100 degrees or more. The convulsions can differ depending on the child, but there a few basic rules to keep in mind.
First, place your child on a soft surface, either on their side or face-down . Do not hold or restrain your child.
"We used to teach parents to restrain the victim to keep them from hurting themselves . We found that didn't work - instead It caused injuries," says Keizer.
Another rule that no longer applies - placing something in the victims mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue. Keizer says often times, victims bite off a portion of the object and choke.
Once you've placed the child down, Keizer suggests parents look at their watch and time the length of the seizure.
"If the seizure lasts for an extraordinarily long time, we really need to know that. It's probably going to be over though by the time we get there," says Keizer.
Although they can be frightening, the majority of febrile seizures are harmless. There's no evidence they cause brain damage. Also, they're not necessarily an indicator that your child has epilepsy.
But after a seizure, you'll want to take your child to see the doctor, especially if they have multiple episodes within 24 hours. Febrile seizures can run in families, but your physician needs to rule out more serious conditions like meningitis or epilepsy.
There's little you can do to prevent or predict a febrile seizure because they're often preceded by a sudden spike in a child's body temperature. But you can try to cool them down, or give them something like acetaminophen to lower their fever.
Doctors usually don't prescribe medications like Phenobarbital (which is used to manage epileptic seizures) because they can cause developmental and behavioral problems in otherwise healthy children.
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