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Why does my child get fits during fever?

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Dr. Sayed Mujahid Husain, Paediatrician with Apollo Medical Centre, Bangalore, India, explains the phenomenon of seizures during high fever in few children. Dr Sayed assures that the seizures are harmless and parent should not panic if their child has experienced a fit recently.

When high fever above 102o F in a child below the age of five is accompanied by fits or convulsions, it is known as febrile seizures. Here febrile means feverish. It is caused by a sudden rise in the temperature usually due to a viral infection. One should not confuse it with epilepsy.

It typically involves:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rolling back of the eyes
  • Excessive saliva
  • Sudden jerky movements of limbs
  • Moaning or crying

Here is a list of do’s and don’t during febrile seizures:

  • Lie your child on the floor on his sides
  • Remove anything that might hurt him/her
  • Loosen any tight clothing
  • Put a soft pillow under his/her head
  • Note down the time duration of seizure
  • Do not put anything in his/her mouth
  • Don’t try to hold down your child

Around 8-10% of the children below the age of 5 are vulnerable to febrile seizures. These seizures can be frightening but are harmless. My advice to the parents is to remain calm in such circumstances, let the child settle down first. Do not try anything without consulting a paediatrician. Your doctor is the best person to evaluate the seizure. If need be, proper medical treatment would be advised henceforth.

It might look very scary seeing your child in fits, but there are no health issues or long-term complications from it.

However, if the seizure continues longer than 15 minutes or your child has repeated episodes of fits, reach out to your doctor immediately.

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