Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Managing Convulsions/Seizures In A Child

Febrile seizures are a common medical emergency in children. It can be frightening for a parent so a good understanding of the cause is necessary for its management.

Like the name implies, a febrile seizure/convulsion is caused by fever and not a brain infection or disorder. Any child with malaria, urinary tract infections (UTIs), respiratory infections, or ear infections can develop a fever high enough to cause a convulsion.

A higher risk of febrile convulsion is found in children between 6 months to 5 years especially male children. Also, a child with a previous history of febrile convulsion or family history of convulsion (especially in the father) can have a febrile seizure.

Because a child with fever can convulse (especially when the temperature is greater than 38 degrees), lowering the body's temperature is essential to preventing it.

You can reduce the temperature at home by dressing the child in light clothes, tepid sponging (using warm water NOT COLD WATER) and giving an anti-pyretic like Paracetamol at the appropriate dose for age.

If a child convulses at home:
  • Move the child away from an environment that can cause injury (like falling from a bed).
  • Make the child lie on his/her side to prevent aspiration and maintain the airway.
  • Cushion the head to prevent injury.
  • Observe how many seizures the child had and how long each lasted before the child regained consciousness. The doctor will need this information to tell if it was a simple or complex seizure.
  • Take steps to reduce the temperature when the child regains consciousness especially with Paracetamol and tepid sponging.
  • N.B NEVER GIVE A CHILD ANYTHING BY MOUTH DURING THE SEIZURE because of the risk of aspiration.

Finally, ensure you take the child to the hospital for further treatment because febrile convulsions improperly managed increases a child's risk of having epilepsy later in life.

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