FEBRILE CONVULSIONS (fits due to a high temperature)
Occasionally a child who has a high temperature will have a convulsion or fit. It is not known precisely why some children react in this way, but it is not a sign that the child will suffer from epilepsy or convulsions later in life. However, it is very frightening for parents when it does happen and they need to know how to handle the situation so as not to make things worse by panicking.
The child who is having a convulsion usually rolls her eyes and starts twitching or stiffens and passes out. She may foam at the mouth and jerk a lot. Call the doctor but meanwhile dont try to slap or shake the child out of it, and dont give her anything to drink while she is unconscious. Just see that she does not hurt herself by falling, and make sure her nose is not obstructed and that her head is not thrown back so that her tongue obstructs her breathing. Dont try to put anything in her mouth to prevent her biting her tongue or you could block her airway and do more harm than good unless you really know what you are doing.
Do not cover her with a blanket, but start peeling off her clothes. Undress her completely and sponge her down with cool water. You can even put her in front of a fan with a basin of ice near it so that it can blow cold air onto her (she will not get a cold). You can also fill a hot water bottle with iced water and put it against her, but dont give her a bath as she may have another convulsion while in the bath. You must get her temperature down as quickly as possible. When she comes round properly you can give her a dose of aspirin or paracetamol to help lower her temperature. She will not be aware of what has happened after she comes round so dont frighten her by acting in a panicky fashion. She will be sleepy and once your doctor has seen her you can let her rest.
Future outlook for the child who has had a febrile convulsion. Your doctor may order tests if he is not quite satisfied that the convulsion was merely the result of a high temperature and not of a more serious condition such as an infection that can cause convulsions (for example meningitis or encephalitis).
If it is obvious that the child had the convulsion solely as a result of the high temperature accompanying one of the more common childhood diseases, not just flu or something of the kind, he may not subject her to extensive tests. Either way he is sure to advise you to keep a close eye on her if she runs a temperature again and to use the measures outlined on p. 222 for lowering it.
Medicines. Most febrile convulsions occur only once in a lifetime, but when a child has shown a susceptibility to febrile convulsions she is generally given a low dosage of an anti-convulsive drug daily until she is around five (when most children outgrow the tendency); some doctors prefer to treat each convulsion if and when it arises. Both methods have their advantages and you will have to be guided by your doctor. In any event, it is a problem that rectifies itself in time in most cases. Do not let fear of a convulsion make you over-anxious about your childs every symptom – it is not that serious.
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