In February of 2019, my youngest son experienced a febrile seizure for the first time. Neither of my 2 other boys had ever had one so I absolutely panicked when it happened. Once everything had calmed down and we knew he was okay, I went into research mode. I read as much as I could about Febrile Seizures to prepare myself with knowledge. All parents of young children should know about them in case it ever happens. Here is what you need to know about a Febrile Seizure.
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How the Febrile Seizure started
If you want to hear the whole story you can watch my Youtube video that I did very shortly after my son had his febrile seizure. The shortened version of the story is this. My youngest son was 16-months old and was getting sick. When I picked him up from daycare on Friday evening I noticed he had a slight fever. I could tell he was a little off and was concerned about an ear infection because his brother was just getting rid of his. Since he wasn’t feeling great on Saturday morning I made him an early appointment at Urgent Care. The doctor confirmed a double ear infection and sent in a prescription for antibiotics for him.
At this point, nothing was that abnormal. We had been checking his temperature with a temporal thermometer which I have since learned is NOT the way to do it for young children. I thought his fever was closer to 102 but it was actually higher than that.
I was going to go pick up the prescription but my son fell asleep in the car on the way so I decided to go home first and get it later. Since he was running a fever I was going to go get him some Tylenol to help bring the fever down. I came into the house with him in my arms and was talking to my husband when my son kind of lost his balance and almost fell back a bit while I was holding him.
I thought it was weird that he sort of lost his balance, but then he started to seize in my arms. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever experienced. My mind went blank and I had no idea what to do. I thank God that my husband was there and he was able to think more clearly. We got him over to the couch and laid him on his side. My husband quickly called 911 and the operator talked us through what to do.
Since my son had been sick, his tonsils were enlarged and the seizure caused his throat to close so he wasn’t able to breathe. He was turning blue and all I could think of was that he was going to die. The operator told us to take his clothes off down to his diaper since he was so warm from the fever. We kept him on his side and stripped him down while we waited for paramedics to arrive.
The paramedics arrived within 10 minutes and very calmly came in and got right to work assessing him. He was starting to breathe on his own now but was still passed out. They tried to get him to come to but he was very out of it so they sent us to the hospital in the ambulance. I rode with him and my husband drove our 2 other boys.
The doctors at the hospital gave us medicine and explained all about febrile seizures. They monitored my son for hours and eventually let us go home.
What is a Febrile Seizure
A Febrile Seizure is when a child starts convulsing, usually brought on by a high fever. It is the body’s response to the high temperature. Febrile seizures can sometimes happen even with a low fever but often related to a viral infection. It usually occurs within the first 24 hours of an illness. Usually, they don’t last more than 5-15 minutes. The Mayo clinic goes into more detail here about Febrile Seizures.
What can cause Febrile Seizures
Febrile Seizures can happen when a child spikes a fever quickly or drops temperature quickly. It is often brought on by a viral infection. For us, it was a double ear infection. Sometimes kids can have a febrile seizure after certain vaccinations but its because of the fever that can come with those vaccinations. The seizure is NOT caused by the vaccination itself.
Who is at risk for a Febrile Seizure
Febrile Seizures are most common in children from 12 to 18 months but can occur between 6 months and 5 years old. Some children inherit their family’s tendency to have fever-induced seizures.
How to Prevent Febrile Seizures
When a child ages 12 to 18 months start to get a fever, give them fever-reducing medication. Use a rectal thermometer (in their bottom) to check their temperature. This is the most accurate and is recommended for ages 2 and under.
More to Know
There can be a likelihood that once a child has had a febrile seizure, they might have another one. Until they are out of the peak age range, monitor them closely every time they get a fever. Make sure they get their fever-reducing medication like Tylenol or Motrin to keep the fever down. Keep a close eye when they get their vaccinations.
Febrile seizures are not known to be dangerous. There are rarely any long-lasting effects. The biggest concern is that they are kept safe while it is happening and make sure they can breathe. Febrile seizures can be VERY scary but once you are armed with the knowledge, you won’t panic.
Just a few weeks after I posted my video about my son’s seizure, my friend said it happened to her daughter. She didn’t panic because she knew what it was, based on what I had said, and she knew it wasn’t dangerous.
For more potential New Mom Surprises, see my post here.
Here are some items that you should have on hand in case you encounter this situation. Keep one thermometer in your house just for rectal use and write in permanent marker on it “for rectal use only”.