Febrile seizures in children and adults – treatment methods

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Febrile seizures in children and adults – treatment methods

Febrile seizures are seizures associated with high fever. Parents who observe this condition in their child are seized with panic. After all, the spectacle is really frightening. However, is it really that dangerous? And how to help the baby cope with this phenomenon?   

 Characteristics of pathology

What are febrile seizures? We are talking about seizures of a convulsive nature that occur only at high temperatures (above 38 ° C). 

Another distinctive feature is age restriction. Febrile seizures are common in toddlers under 6 years of age. If an attack occurs in a child over 6 years old, then epilepsy is often the source.       

About 5% of all babies suffer from convulsive seizures.

Reasons for the appearance

Doctors are not ready to say what provokes an unpleasant condition.

However, it is known that it leads to seizures:

  • immaturity (age-related underdevelopment) of the nervous system;
  • weak inhibition of processes in the brain.

Such physiological features underlie the low threshold of irritability and the transmission of impulses between brain cells, against the background of which a seizure appears.

Given this, it should be emphasized that febrile convulsions only last up to 6 years of age. Older children already have a more stable nervous system. Therefore, if a child who has passed the 6-year mark has seizures, then this is a serious reason to be examined by a doctor. These are symptoms of other pathologies.     

Any condition accompanied by high fever can provoke the onset of an attack:

  • flu, colds, SARS;
  • various vaccinations;
  • teething.

The most important factor provoking a convulsive seizure in a child is heredity. If relatives are diagnosed with epilepsy, the child may inherit a predisposition to both febrile seizures and epilepsy itself.  

Risk group

Not all children suffer from this problem. Unpleasant symptoms are manifested in patients who differ in the individual structure of the nervous system. Febrile seizures occur in children with a high sensitivity threshold. In some, pathology appears at a temperature of 39 ° C. For others, 38 ° C is a dangerous indicator.   

Doctors note that convulsions are most often observed in the following groups:

  • premature babies;
  • children with CNS pathologies;
  • children with spinal hernias;
  • crumbs born as a result of rapid or difficult childbirth.

Typical symptoms

Doctors do not interpret febrile seizures as a manifestation of epilepsy. But these pathologies have a number of common external manifestations.  

When a child has a seizure, he loses contact with the environment. The kid does not respond to actions, does not hear words, does not cry. Sometimes he holds his breath. Blue in the face is observed. The attack lasts no more than 15 minutes. Convulsions can appear in series.     

Types of pathologies

Depending on what symptoms the child has, pathology is divided into several types:    

  1. Tonic convulsions. All muscle groups are tense in the baby and the symptoms are pronounced. The crumb throws back his head. His eyes roll back. The legs are straightened, and the arms are bent towards the chest area. Twitching or jerking of the whole body is characteristic. The symptoms gradually subside and disappear completely.   
  2. Atonic. All muscle tissues in the body are instantly relaxed. With this form of pathology, urinary and fecal incontinence can be observed.
  3. Local. The twitching only affects the limbs. The pathology is accompanied by rolling of the eyes.

In children who have had febrile seizures, the seizure may recur with the next episode of hyperthermia (high temperature). Recurring symptoms are observed in almost a third of young patients who have had convulsions.    

How to recognize a seizure

Febrile seizures in children can occur: 

  • typically;
  • atypical.

Typical pathology is characterized by convulsions covering the entire body. The seizure begins, most often, with loss of consciousness. Then the limbs and the whole body of the crumbs become stiff. Gradually, the head tilts back, and only then rhythmic twitching begins. The integuments of the body become pale or bluish.

The attack does not last long, no more than 5 minutes. It does not repeat itself during the day. 

With an atypical manifestation, the seizure lasts much longer, about 15 minutes, sometimes more. Convulsions can affect a specific part of the body. Such an attack can be repeated several times throughout the day. Complex febrile seizures are very easy to confuse with other severe conditions.    

How to distinguish febrile seizures from epilepsy

Each parent, faced with a similar condition in their child, begins to worry if this symptomatology is the beginning of the development of such a formidable and serious illness as epilepsy.

No doctor will give a 100% guarantee. However, statistics provide the following data. Only 2% of children with febrile convulsions in childhood are subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy. 

Only an experienced neurologist can correctly differentiate symptoms . However, there are a number of differences that make it possible to distinguish febrile manifestations from epileptic ones:   

  1. Convulsions in children under 6 years of age appear only against the background of hyperthermia.
  2. The symptomatology occurs for the first time and is repeated only in such conditions.

Diagnosis of pathology

A kid who has had an attack must be shown to a pediatric neurologist. The symptoms are very similar to epilepsy. Without special examinations, it is impossible to tell what exactly caused the seizure.   

Thus, the diagnosis is based on the exclusion of other sources of convulsions, such as epilepsy, neuroinfection .

A comprehensive examination includes the following:

  1. Blood test (biochemistry and general).
  2. Urine examination.
  3. Lumbar puncture. This fluid analysis makes it possible to exclude the presence of encephalitis, meningitis.
  4. Computed tomography or nuclear magnetic resonance.
  5. Electroencephalogram.

Treatment methods

Parents, faced with convulsions in a child, begin to panic. In this state, they are simply not able to help their child. And the crumb needs correct and adequate help. Therefore, the very first and most important rule is to calm down. 

First aid

If the baby has an attack, it is important to consider 2 points: 

  1. Prevent saliva, vomit from entering the respiratory tract.
  2. Protect your child from traumatic injury during a seizure. 

To alleviate the condition of their child and protect him from negative consequences, parents must adhere to the following rules of behavior: 

  1. Be sure to call an ambulance.
  2. It is advisable to call someone for help.
  3. The crumb should be transferred to a hard surface. Avoid contact with dangerous objects . The child is placed on a barrel. The face is turned down. This position will protect the baby from the penetration of various components into the respiratory tract. 
  4. Be sure to remember the time when the attack began . Strictly control its duration. Use your watch to do this, as parents who watch convulsions often lose track of time. Watch for symptoms of a seizure. Pay attention to the posture, the presence of consciousness, the location of the limbs, body, head, whether the child’s eyes roll . It is these data that will tell the doctor what treatment a small patient needs.  
  5. Watch your breathing. If the baby is tense and has no breathing, then immediately after the seizure, it is necessary to start artificial respiration. It is useless to carry out this procedure until the attack has passed . 
  6. Strip your baby and provide fresh air. Open the window. It is desirable that the temperature in the room corresponds to 20 C.
  7. Apply physical methods to combat hyperthermia. Can be rubbed with water and vinegar.
  8. Use an antipyretic medication to lower your fever. However, drinking syrups or swallowing tablets is highly undesirable and even dangerous. It is best to use the Paracetamol candles.
  9. Do not leave the crumb alone. You must be there and protect your baby from serious complications and injuries.

What is forbidden to do

Febrile seizures in children are intimidating. Therefore, parents, trying to alleviate the condition of the baby, often resort to activities that are completely unnecessary, and sometimes dangerous. 

Remember what to do is categorically contraindicated:

  1. Do not use force to restrain the child during a seizure. This can lead to injury.
  2. Do not insert any objects into your mouth, do not stick your tongue out from the crumbs. It is only a myth that you can swallow your tongue during convulsions. At the same time, manipulations with the mouth can end very badly, starting from damage and ending with the ingress of a foreign body into the respiratory tract. There is already a serious threat to children’s life. 
  3. Do not refrigerate with a cold bath. Such an event can provoke cardiac arrest.
  4. During convulsions, do not use medications, water. This is fraught with liquid entering the respiratory tract.

Complementary treatment

Febrile seizures, lasting no more than 15 minutes, and not recurring, do not require additional therapeutic measures.

But if they are prolonged and tend to recur, then the small patient will need an intravenous injection. An anticonvulsant drug is recommended, such as Phenytoin, Valproic acid, Phenobarbital. The doctor will do this by assessing the condition of the crumbs.

Sometimes hyperthermia and convulsions can be symptoms of extremely serious diseases – neuroinfections (meningitis, encephalitis). But do not rush to panic, such diseases are extremely rare. If the doctor suspects, he may prescribe additional examinations or recommend taking the baby to the hospital. Be ready for this and do not resist, because the health of your child is at stake.

Preventive actions

Many parents believe that an attack can be prevented by using medications:  

  1. Antipyretic drugs. Some mothers strictly measure the temperature and give the baby with a fever every 4 hours “Paracetamol”. Medical studies have confirmed that antipyretic drugs have no effect on the onset of a seizure. But the excessive use of antipyretic drugs has a toxic effect on the kidneys, liver, blood. That is why doctors refused to use antipyretics to prevent seizures.
  2. Anticonvulsants. A significant decrease in the frequency of seizures with the use of valproates (” Depakin “, ” Konvuleks “, “Phenobarbital”) has been fully proven. However, these medications have serious side effects. They are capable of provoking behavioral disorders: hyperactivity and drowsiness. In addition, they affect the pancreas, liver, and the hematopoietic system.
  3. Antiepileptic drugs. Their use is justified only if, after the examination, the diagnosis is confirmed: epilepsy.

Therefore, the decision to prescribe such funds can only be made by a neurologist on the basis of rather serious reasons.

Febrile seizures in children are extremely dramatic. However, they do not harm the central nervous system and are not a health hazard. But it is important to remember about the methods of helping the baby. Compliance with these measures will allow you to wait for the arrival of doctors without harm to the health of the baby. 

Remember that in such a state your child is more helpless than ever, and his future depends only on your actions.

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