Saturday, May 18, 2013
The nurse came in and asked if I had my children screened by the neurologist and if they were on any medication for their epilepsy. I reminded her that they have febrile seizures, which is not epilepsy. She then proceeded to tell me that febrile seizures are "really common when kids have fevers" and "it should probably be noted on their chart that they have fever induced seizures". I reminded her that's exactly was febrile means.
In that moment I just could not get over how wrong this nurse was on febrile seizures, so I thought I would take a moment and educate whomever is reading this on febrile seizures.
So, what are febrile seizures?
They are convulsions brought on by fevers in infants or small children. The child will most often lose consciousness and begin shaking. This can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. Aaron's was around a minute and Jill's was pretty similar. They both convulsed in different ways. Aaron convulsed violently, turned purple, foamed and had his eyes roll back. Jill slumped over, made a clicking sounds, twitched and one time she threw up.
The majority of children that have febrile seizures have a rectal temperature of 102 degrees or higher at the time of the seizure. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS), "Children prone to febrile seizures are not considered to have epilepsy, since epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are not triggered by fever." Ahem, nurse.
How common are febrile seizures?
About one in every 25 children will experience a febrile seizure. They also usually occur between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. It's very rare to see them before or after. Also, if you have a family history of them (which we do) your children are more likely to have them.
What do you do if your child is having a febrile seizure?
Stay calm. I know, I know, it's hard, but you need especially if you have other children with you. Make sure they are lying on the ground away from anything that may harm them. You should also roll them on their side in case they begin to vomit or choke. Do not under any circumstance restrain them or place anything in their mouth. I know this used to be standard way back in the day and some people still believe in these misconceptions. Do not do it, you will harm your child.
Make sure you check your watch so you know how long they are convulsing. It will feel like an eternity to you, but it may only be a minute.
Both MayoClinic and NINDS recommend taking your child immediately to your physician unless the fever lasts longer than 10 minutes, then you should call an ambulance. I did not follow this advice and called 911 both times. Aaron was really lethargic after his and Jill's fever kept rising. She actually needed a shot to bring down her fever when we arrived at the hospital. Go with your gut, they paramedics will not be mad, I promise.
These are extremely terrifying to watch and nothing can honestly prepare you. I had a hard time during and after these to the point that I need to talk to a therapist. I can still to this day see Aaron's face and hear Jill clicking. So when the nurse tried to dismiss this as a run of the mill thing, you know after she thought it was epilepsy, I was angry. There is nothing run of the mill about this and it's always good to educate yourself on the topic.
I encourage you to find out if anyone in your family has ever had a febrile seizure and check out NINDS and MayoClinic for more information.