Febrile seizures are seizures that children suffer from a sudden rise in temperature, usually following an infection. Although visually stunning, febrile seizures are usually harmless to the child.
As indicated Mayo Clinic, febrile seizures can be caused by infections, as well as the increase in body temperature caused by some childhood vaccines, which are nevertheless necessary to prevent diseases.
Causes of febrile seizures
In general terms, a higher than normal body temperature is already sufficient for the patient to experience febrile seizures, which can occur even from a relatively low fever.
The fevers that lead to febrile seizures are commonly due to viral infections and, in less frequent cases, bacterial infections. Among these infections, influenza and roseola virus are two of the most associated with febrile seizures.
A child can also have febrile seizures after receiving certain vaccines. Among them we find the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, mumps, measles and rubella.
Complications of seizures
Most febrile seizures do not produce long-lasting effects. They do not cause brain damage, intellectual disability, or learning disabilities, and they do not indicate that the child has a more serious underlying disorder.
As the name implies, febrile seizures are caused by a sudden rise in body temperature and do not indicate epilepsy, a disease characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures that are due to abnormal electrical signals in the brain.
The most common complication of febrile seizures is the possibility of recurrent febrile seizures. The risk of such seizures is higher if any of the following occur:
- Your child’s first seizure was from a low fever.
- The period between the onset of fever and the seizure was short.
- An immediate family member has a medical history of febrile seizures.
- Your child was less than 18 months old at the time of his first febrile seizure.
Prevention of febrile seizures
Most febrile seizures occur in the first hours of the fever, at the initial rise in body temperature.
Prescription preventive medications are rarely used to try to prevent febrile seizures. In addition, these medications can cause serious side effects that outweigh any benefit they can offer.
However, it is possible prescribing rectal diazepam or nasal midazolam in children who are prone to prolonged febrile seizures.
These medications are used primarily for seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes, or in cases where the patient has more than 1 seizure within 24 hours. They are not generally used for febrile seizures.
Although febrile seizures are not very dangerous for the infant, it is still necessary for parents to attend to the increase in body temperature so that the seizures do not recur.
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