Febrile seizure

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Febrile seizure is a convulsion that is associated with a significant rise in body temperature in children ages of six months to five years. Febrile seizure is also known as fever fit or febrile convulsion. A fever itself is not an illness, but is associated with respiratory illness. [7]

Contents

Symptoms

During simple febrile seizures, the body will become stiff and the arms and legs will begin twitching. Also, the eyes roll back. The patient loses consciousness, although their eyes remain open. Breathing can be irregular. They may become incontinent (wet or soil themselves); they may also vomit or have increased secretions (foam at the mouth). The skin may appear to be darker than normal during an episode. The seizure normally lasts for less than one minute, but uncommonly can last up to fifteen minutes. [5] [7] [9]

Causes

The direct cause of a febrile seizure is not known; however, it is normally precipitated by a recent upper respiratory infection or gastroenteritis. A febrile seizure is the effect of a sudden rise in temperature (>39°C/102°F) rather than a fever that has been present for a prolonged length of time. [1]

Febrile seizures represent the meeting point between a low seizure threshold (genetically and age-determined; some children have a greater tendency to have seizures under certain circumstances) and a trigger, which is fever. Fever most of the time accompanies respiratory illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, ear infections, croup, sore throats, and colds. It can occur also with various viral illnesses. [7] [10]

The genetic causes of febrile seizures are still being researched. Some mutations that cause a neuronal hyperexcitability (and could be responsible for febrile seizures) have already been discovered. [9]

Several genetic associations have been identified. [2] These include:

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is one that must be arrived at by eliminating more serious causes of seizure and fever: in particular, meningitis and encephalitis must be considered. However, in locales in which children are immunized for pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae, the prevalence of bacterial meningitis is low. If a child has recovered and is acting normally, bacterial meningitis is very unlikely. The diagnosis of a febrile seizure should not prevent evaluation of the child for source of fever, although this is usually limited to evaluation of the urine in the younger age groups.

Heat-related illness or heat stroke is a more serious problem that is confused with fever. This is caused by surrounding heat and not infection or respiratory illnesses. It occurs when children are in very hot places, which can lead to dangerous levels of body temperature. It is important to prevent this and if it does occur to go to the pediatrician or emergency room immediately. [7]

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