A febrile convulsion refers to a convulsion or fit which occurs with a rapid rise in body temperture. It disrupts family life and gives most unpleasant experience to both the child and his parents. Children in the age group of six months to five years are especially prone to this condition. This is because the child’s brain is not fully developed and also there is genetic predisposition for febrile convulsions.
By the age of five years, the vast majority of children outgrow this susceptibilty to febrile convulsions. Febrile seizurs rarely develop into epilepsy and they disappear spontaneously, without any specific treatment. Most children who have had one febrile convulsion are likely to have another attack till the age of five years, but as they grow, the frequency of attack decreases.
Usually, there is a rapid rise in temperature to 102oC and above, followed by the attack of convulsions. The child may become blue in face and his eyes may roll upwards. His body twitches, his libs tremble and he may become unconscious. The convulsion may last for few seconds to 10 minutes and this may follow with a very brief period of drowsiness.
Any infection of throat, ears, chest or urinary tract etc. can lead to a febrile convulsion, if the temperature rises too high and too rapidly.
During the time the convulsion is in progress, no attempt should be made to restrain the child’s movements. However, all sharp objects like toys and furniture should be removed from the immediate vicinity of the child to avoid the possibility of an injury. No attempt should be made to put anything in the child’s mouth. The child should be turned gently to his sides, so as to ensure that his breathing is not obstructed and does not choke himself.
As soon as the convulsion has ceased, the child should be given lots of love and comfort. This is necessary, as, being unaware of wht has happened to him over the past few minutes, he may feel confused and frightened. As soon as he feels reassured, his temperature should be noted down. The next action must be to cool him. This can be done by placing a small ice bag on his forehead and covering his body with a wet towel. His clothing should be loosened and windows opened. He should be sponged with tepid water.
The child’s bowel should be cleansed by giving him warm- water enema. He should not be given anyting to eat for atleast 24 hours. He may be given only warm water to drink.
A home remedy found beneficial in the treatment of convulsion in children caused by high fever is the use of mustard (raye) seeds. These seeds should be powdered and a teaspoon of this powder should be mixed in a gallon of warm water. This can be used as a therapeutic bath for the child-patient.
Once having witnessed a febrile convulsion, parents will be aware of the circumstances which can lead upto this frightening event. So, should a similar situation arise again in future, that is, a high temperature associated with an infection somewhere in the body, immediate cooling action, as outlined above, can be taken. This will reduce the chances of occurrence of febrile convulsion.
There is no need to take drastic measures to cool the child, if he only has a low-grade fever. But he should be made as comfortable as possible and kept generally cool when he has a fever. This is necessary as the young child’s brain is still too immature to cope with a high temperature.
It is of utmost importance that the parents should not panic, but remain cool and calm in facing the situation. If they do do and carry out the treatment outlined above, they will save their children from long-term harm.