Febrile seizures

Dr. Viraj Sanghi and Dr. Puja Mehta

What is a Febrile Seizure?

A febrile seizure is a convulsion that is caused by a spike in body temperature, usually  from a viral infection.

Febrile seizures typically occur in early childhood – from 6 months to 5 years.

Febrile seizures are the body’s  response to a fever. 

It is a well known fact that genetic factors play an important role. Children who have a family member with a history of febrile seizures are at a higher risk of having a febrile seizure. 

What tests are done for febrile seizure?

Infections of the brain and other causes must be ruled out before diagnosing a febrile seizure in infants who have one for the first time. 

If your child is less than 18 months and has a febrile seizure for the first time, your doctor may ask for some tests such a lumbar puncture or brain scan to rule out infections.

My child had one febrile seizure, what are the chances he’ll have more?

There are risk factors for recurrent febrile seizures:

– family history of febrile seizures 

– seizure when the fever is not too high

– febrile seizures that started at a younger age, around 1 year or younger

– relatively short time between onset of fever and seizure

Are Febrile Seizures the same as Epilepsy?

No. Epilepsy is a group of disorders in which patients have recurrent unprovoked seizures (for example seizures that occur when the child is completely well without fever). Febrile seizures do not need to be treated with long term daily medicines.

Does a febrile seizure increase the chances of developing epilepsy later?

Risk of developing epilepsy is about 1-3% in the general population.

Simple febrile seizures don’t increase the risk. However if your child has complex febrile seizures the risk of epilepsy later is increased upto 5-6%.

What can I do to prevent a febrile seizure?

Giving Paracetamol or other medication for fever will make your child comfortable when he/she has a fever, but will not prevent a seizure.

If your child has very frequent or long febrile seizures, your neurologist may prescribe an emergency medicine – Midazolam nasal spray that can be used to stop a seizure .

Remember to keep the spray with you at all times!

Emergency management of a seizure

– Remain Calm!

– Time the seizure

– Lay the child on the ground or a flat surface and place in recovery position

– Do not put anything in the child’s mouth

Talk to your child’s Neurologist about prescribing Midazolam spray

If the seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes – administer the midazolam nasal spray 

Wait for 4-5 minutes after the spray

If the seizure still continues, administer the same dose a second time

If the seizure still continues despite the 2nd dose – take the child to the nearest hospital

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