In connection with a high fever, a febrile seizure can occur, especially in young children. A febrile seizure is associated with symptoms similar to an epileptic fit and can lead to unconsciousness in the affected children. In most cases, febrile seizures are harmless.
What is a febrile seizure?
According to NONPROFITDICTIONARY.COM, a febrile seizure usually occurs in connection with a high fever. Around four percent of young children are affected. Febrile seizures are most common between the ages of five months and five years. The cause of the fever is irrelevant to the occurrence of a spasm and can be quite harmless.
The symptoms of a febrile seizure are similar to those of an epileptic seizure. The body stiffens, in addition to the cramping of arms and legs, the eyes are rolled and the child loses consciousness. The causes of febrile convulsions have not yet been clearly clarified.
However, there seems to be an innate predisposition to seizures. Febrile convulsions often occur when the fever starts suddenly and rises rapidly. In principle, however, a febrile seizure can set in at any phase of the fever.
The causes for the occurrence of a febrile seizure have not yet been fully explored by medicine. However, it is believed that a febrile seizure can result from a defensive reaction in the body. When sick, certain immune cells release messenger substances that lead to fever.
At the same time, they also cause a change in the metabolism in the brain for a short time. This metabolic change can cause a febrile seizure. There seems to be a hereditary predisposition for the occurrence of the cramps. Some children also get febrile seizures after the combined vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.
Nevertheless, children with a tendency to febrile seizures should also receive this vaccination, because the vaccination leads to a febrile seizure far less often than the illnesses themselves. Serious illnesses such as meningitis can also trigger a febrile seizure.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
A number of different symptoms can occur depending on whether the illness is simple or complicated. A simple febrile seizure is usually straightforward. Typical signs include muscle twitching, rolled eyes, and circulatory problems. If the course is severe, the initial palpitations and attacks of dizziness can develop into circulatory shock, which in most cases leads to unconsciousness in the affected child.
Affected children usually appear sleepy and tired, they often give the impression of being in a twilight state. A simple seizure can occur anywhere in the body and usually lasts only a few seconds to minutes. A complicated fever is manifested by twitching and convulsions, which are usually localized. It often lasts for several minutes and is an enormous burden for the children concerned.
Complicated febrile seizures usually occur several times a day and cause tiredness, exhaustion and confusion in the sick person. This is accompanied by the typical fever symptoms: sweating, cardiovascular problems and a strong feeling of illness. Serious complications cannot be ruled out either. For example, some patients have panic attacks and anxiety.
Diagnosis & course
For febrile seizures, doctors make a diagnosis primarily based on the child’s medical history and the symptoms the parents observed during the seizure. A febrile seizure usually lasts less than 10 minutes and is not dangerous.
In the case of long-lasting, complicated seizures, the child’s brain activity is examined using an EEG. If the examination is carried out directly during a seizure, the values in the EGG are changed and show the typical values of a seizure affecting the whole body. However, after a harmless febrile seizure, all values are back to normal.
If the measured values change after the attack or if the cramp lasts longer than 10 minutes, it is advisable to clarify the causes, since serious illnesses such as meningitis can also cause a febrile seizure. In 90 percent of cases, however, a febrile seizure takes a harmless course.
Febrile seizures usually run without serious complications. Febrile seizures that last longer than ten to fifteen minutes are a cause for concern. It may be due to a dangerous infection or poisoning, which can lead to speech disorders or paralysis, among other things.
If the symptoms are based on meningitis, this can lead to severe brain disorders, organ diseases and ultimately to organ failure and death of the patient. A febrile seizure can cause epilepsy in one to three percent of all those affected. HHE syndrome with half-sided seizures and epileptic reactions can also occur rarely.
In addition, the risk of accidents increases as a result of epilepsy or the convulsions themselves. In infants and toddlers, febrile seizures are associated with increasing dehydration and various deficiency symptoms, which can lead to severe physical and mental disorders. If left untreated, a complicated febrile seizure can lead to serious health complications.
With timely treatment, the prescribed medication carries certain risks. For example, antispasmodic drugs can cause side effects such as rashes, drop in blood pressure, water retention, and constipation. Allergy sufferers are at risk of allergic shock. A febrile seizure should always be clarified by a doctor because of the possible complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the worst case, a febrile seizure can lead to death and should therefore always be examined by a doctor. These cramps can be very dangerous, especially in children, and usually require medical treatment. The doctor should be consulted if the person concerned has a high fever and cramps in the muscles. Different muscles can be affected, so that normal movement of the affected person is often not possible. If the person concerned loses consciousness due to the febrile seizure, an emergency doctor must be called or the hospital must be visited.
Until the emergency doctor arrives, the patient must be placed in a stable lateral position and possibly emergency ventilation. Rolling your eyes can also indicate a febrile seizure and should be examined. These cramps often only last a few minutes and are harmless. A visit to the doctor is necessary if the cramps last longer than ten minutes and occur more frequently. Treatment can be given in a hospital or by a general practitioner or pediatrician. In most cases, the disease progresses positively through the use of medication.
Treatment & Therapy
In most cases, a febrile seizure ends by itself without treatment. Therapy then consists in relieving the fever with antipyretic agents. Febrile convulsions usually progress without serious complications. Febrile seizures that last longer than ten to fifteen minutes are a cause for concern.
It may be caused by a dangerous infection or poisoning, which can lead to speech disorders or paralysis over time. If the symptoms are caused by meningitis, this can lead to severe brain disorders, organ diseases and ultimately to organ failure and death of the patient. A febrile seizure can cause epilepsy in one to three percent of all those affected.
HHE syndrome with half-sided seizures and epileptic reactions can also occur rarely. In addition, the risk of accidents increases as a result of epilepsy or the convulsions themselves. In infants and toddlers, febrile seizures are associated with increasing dehydration and various deficiency symptoms, which can lead to severe physical and mental disorders.
If left untreated, a complicated febrile seizure can lead to serious health complications. With timely treatment, the prescribed medication carries certain risks. For example, antispasmodic drugs can cause side effects such as rashes, drop in blood pressure, water retention, and constipation.
Allergy sufferers are at risk of allergic shock. A febrile seizure should always be clarified by a doctor due to the possible complications. If the child has a febrile seizure, the main thing to do is to ensure that the cramping child cannot injure himself.
If the febrile seizure lasts longer than two minutes, anticonvulsants such as diazepam can be given. If the cramp persists, the emergency doctor should be called. In children who suffer from febrile seizures more often, seizure prophylaxis should be carried out in order to reduce the risk of recurring febrile seizures.
Typically, these children are given an anticonvulsant drug for any illness that involves a fever. In most cases, this will prevent a febrile seizure from occurring again.
Outlook & forecast
Since the cause of a febrile seizure lies in dehydration and, as a result, in a spontaneous discharge of cerebral neurons, the fear of developing epilepsy is justified, since a spontaneous discharge in the brain occurs here as well. However, the prognosis after a febrile seizure is good.
Only every third child can suffer further febrile seizures in the course of their childhood, since the reaction in the brain to a rise in temperature is a complex and unchangeable pattern during certain developmental processes. Every febrile seizure should be assessed by a doctor, because not only the cause, such as meningitis, but also complications, such as a laceration, must be clarified and, if necessary, treated.
Only about every 100th child who has suffered a febrile seizure will develop epilepsy later in life. However, important influencing factors play a decisive role here. Febrile seizures in infants, epilepsy in the close family and generally abnormal mental development are criteria that can promote the development of epilepsy.
In general, febrile seizures cannot be prevented, but it is advisable to only tolerate increases in temperature up to 38.5 degrees Celsius and then treat them. In many cases, this can minimize the risk. The prophylactic use of anticonvulsant drugs is not advisable because the side effects are not in proportion to the benefits.
Preventive measures against the occurrence of a febrile seizure should always be taken if there is an increased risk. This can be the case if the child has had a febrile seizure in the past. But even if the family has had febrile seizures, preventive measures should be considered.
In these cases, any fever that occurs should be treated immediately with antipyretic medication. In children, this is usually done with the help of fever suppositories. An anti-epileptic can also be administered prophylactically and thus avoid a febrile seizure in the case of febrile illnesses.
First and foremost, a febrile seizure must be treated immediately by a doctor. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications or other complaints and, as a rule, also to a worsening of the complaints, so that the early detection and treatment of this disease is always in the foreground. In the worst case, the affected person may even die if the febrile seizure is ignored and not treated.
The follow-up care measures are usually based on the treatment of the underlying disease that is responsible for the febrile seizure. In the case of children in particular, immediate treatment by a doctor is necessary. The treatment itself takes place with the help of medication, which can lower the fever. These medications should be taken as directed by a doctor to relieve symptoms.
If the febrile seizure persists even after a few days, a doctor must definitely be consulted again. In the case of serious complaints, you can go to a hospital directly or call an emergency doctor. In general, if you have a febrile seizure, you should rest and take care of your body.
You can do that yourself
If a febrile seizure occurs for the first time, the emergency doctor should be called in. Most of the time, however, the symptoms subside on their own. It is important to protect the person concerned from injuries (e.g. from sharp edges or corners) and, if possible, to calm them down. If the affected person vomits, he must be brought into the stable side position. In less severe cases, it is sufficient to lie gently on the bed or a soft blanket. It is best to loosen clothes and cool the body with calf wraps.
Children can be given a fever suppository (paracetamol or ibuprofen) if they have febrile seizures. Adults can take antipyretic drugs. During the initial seizure, you should also watch out for serious symptoms and get help if necessary. However, the febrile seizure usually goes away within a few minutes.
After the febrile seizure, the following applies: take your body temperature every two to three hours and watch for the first signs of a new seizure. The person affected should also drink plenty of water and take it easy. After the recovery period, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of regular febrile seizures, the doctor can prescribe an antispasmodic as a precaution, which can be used in an emergency.