Febrile Seizure: How to Act

A febrile seizure is a sudden complication in the body caused by a series of electrical impulses in the brain that have no explanation.
Febrile Seizure: How to Act

Last update: 27 December, 2021

Unfortunately, as parents, we have to face difficult situations that affect the health of our babies. One of the most feared is the febrile seizure, in which the child’s body begins to shake for no apparent reason, that is, they begin to seizure for a certain period.

Under these circumstances, it’s normal to worry about the physical integrity of our child. But the good news is that this clinical picture is considered benign. Of course, we’re not prepared to live this experience and, therefore, it’s logical for parents to experience a great deal of fear. However, it’s important to understand this phenomenon in order to know what to do.

Febrile seizures are considered benign.

Now, we need to explain what a seizure really is, even though we’ve all heard that term before. This complication is a sudden change in the body, caused by a series of electrical impulses in the brain that have no explanation.

In general, there are contractions of the limbs of the body with brief periods of relaxation; or, perhaps, extreme stiffness or relaxation, giving the impression of paralysis. The most frightening seizures are those that alter the entire body, but they may seem to have a blank stare for a few seconds.

What is a febrile seizure all about?

A person taking a baby's temperature.

Now that we know what seizures are and how they occur, we can better understand a febrile seizure. In this case, the main cause of this problem is fever, which generally affects three or four little ones out of every hundred.

This episode can occur from nine months to five years. After this age, it’s not very common for it to happen; and it’s estimated that only 50% of the children who’ve already experienced it will never suffer it again in their lives.

But what exactly happens in the body? The temperature begins to rise in such a way that it becomes too high for the youngster, or it rises suddenly and their body isn’t prepared to tolerate this change. Regarding the last case, it does not need to reach very high levels, only to rise quickly.

Febrile seizures occur from nine months to five years

Now, we have to clarify that the intensity of the seizures varies. Therefore, the child could only present a blank stare or stiffness in some of the limbs or with other more serious symptoms such as a seizure that affects the whole body and shake completely.

This moment becomes more complicated when they begin to moan, vomit, bite their tongue, stop breathing, and their color changes. In this case, you must prevent them from hurting themself with objects in the environment and take them in your arms to convey all your love. Call your pediatrician right away and go to a nearby hospital.

After these episodes, the child will go through a state of drowsiness known as a post-critical state, in which they’re exhausted and confused.

How to act?

A woman feeling a boy's forehead and taking his temperature.

Helplessness and confusion leave us confused about what to do as we watch our little angel shake uncontrollably. The bad news is that there’s little we can do to avoid this scenario. However, what we can and should do is prevent danger having to do with other objects. Also, you have to keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t leave them alone for a second.
  • Don’t try to stop their movements because you could cause an injury.
  • Remove any clothing that’s tight, especially in the neck area.
  • Remove any furniture they might trip over or bump into.
  • Don’t put your finger in their mouth, as this is pointless and, what’s more, they could bite you.
  • Don’t put anything between their teeth to prevent them from swallowing their tongue or biting because it increases the risk of other dangers.
  • If the child has vomited, has saliva in their mouth, or if their tongue is hindering their breathing, turn them to their side.
  • If a febrile seizure lasts several minutes, don’t hesitate to go to a hospital. There, doctors will look for the cause of the fever with specialized tests to rule out other serious diseases such as meningitis.

Parents never want anything bad to happen to our little ones; But, in those situations that get out of hand, the best we can do is be prepared and give them all the love they need. Trust your instincts and always protect them on your lap.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.