Febrile seizures are fits or convulsions that occur in children usually at the time of fever. Children aged 6 months to 5 years are more likely to experience febrile seizures. Having febrile seizures does not necessarily mean your child may have epilepsy, as epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures irrespective of fever.
Fever can be caused due to viral infections or bacterial infections. Febrile seizures are more commonly associated with fever due to viral infections. Fever can also occur post immunization like diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus or measles-mumps-rubella vaccines. In such cases, seizures occur due to the fever and not because of the immunization.
A child with a febrile seizure may have high fever, may lose consciousness and both arms and legs may shake or twitch uncontrollably. The febrile seizure symptoms may vary depending on the type of febrile seizure:
Simple febrile seizure: It is the most common type. Symptoms usually last less than 15 minutes and are not limited to one part of the body. They do not recur within 24 hours.
Complex febrile seizure: This type of seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes and is confined to one side of the body. It occurs more than once within 24 hours.
When your child experiences a febrile seizure, it is important to observe the child and time the seizure. The following steps can be taken to ensure your child’s safety during an episode:
Your doctor may recommend treatment for seizure for your child, if they keep reoccurring. Reoccurring seizures may increase your child’s risk for developing epilepsy. Most febrile seizures do not require treatment except for lowering fever. Febrile seizures are usually harmless and will not affect your child’s physical or intellectual capabilities. In any case, consultation with your child’s pediatrician will help you manage the symptoms and prevent any complications efficiently.