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28 Jun '17

Febrile Seizure. A very scaring event.

Posted by Sandra Sosa
One of the most scaring events a parent may experience is a febrile seizure; because suddenly, a young, healthy child have a seizure, without any warning sign.

Worse than that is the fact that when medical help arrives, usually the seizure ended by itself, requiring no medication or medical intervention, but there's still a lot of tension, fear and questions on parent's head.

Is my child epileptic? Why did she/he have a seizure? Is there any chance for the seizure to come again? Is there any sequelae? and so on ...

Unless you are a pediatrician, all the above mentioned questions and many other are completely valid, after all your child is healthy, with no known medical condition and suddenly you witness one of the worst symptoms a human being may have, a seizure.

Well, there are good news! Since things are better than they look!

First thing to say: After a febrile seizure there are not known sequelae; thus once it has ceased, 99% of kids experience a full recovery without no long term effect;
Febrile Seizure
moreover, less than half the children who have experienced a febrile seizure will have another one later on their lives, thus, despite the scaring episode, there's a low risk of complications.

But... if everything goes good after a febrile seizure, why was my kid included on a seizure study protocol? On this case the answer is simple: Prevention.

As it was mentioned above, 99% of kids won't have further problems after a febrile seizure; but what about the remaining 1%? That's the group of children whose seizure was not febrile but due to other cause.

The problem is that after a seizure doctors must distinguish among a febrile event and other seizure causes and the only way to do it is completing the protocol, otherwise children with seizures other than febrile will remain undiagnosed, many times with imminent risk for their health.

Once the seizure protocol has been completed and all seizure causes other than fever have been excluded, you may relax because your child is out of danger and will grow up healthy and strong; nevertheless there's something very importan to know: Febrile seizures may be prevented!

The pathologic process behind febrile seizures is too complex and goes beyond the reach of this post, however it may be summarized on a brief paragraph:

"Febrile seizures are due to a fast, febrile peak instead of a sustained fever pattern", which means that a kid who suddenly experience a temperature raise might suffer from a febrile seizure while those with a progressive temperature increase won't.

With the above in mind, the best way to prevent febrile seizures is preventing fever! Hence if your child is not feeling good, has flu like symptoms or there's a low temperature raise (usually preceding fever) the wisest decision is to lower body temperature.

To do so you may use physical methods (a warm bath, but no cold) or ice packs; in addition you could use antipyretic medications according to your doctor's advice.

If you succeed to prevent fever peaks, you won't have to concern about febrile seizures, however if you are not able to prevent it and your child suffers a febrile seizure: Don't Panic!

Keep calm, be sure to position your kid on one of his/her sides on a flat surface, away from furnitures, elevated areas or any other danger, call emergency services and be sure to keep an open airway properly positioning head and neck and keeping vomit away if present.

Febrile seizures don't last long and after less than a few seconds, usually less than a minute even when parents feel it like a whole eternity; everything will end as soon as it began.

Despite of it, seek proper medical care to be sure about your child's condition in order to avoid further, unnecessary complications and remember to be as much informed as possible, after all, prevention is always better than curation.

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