Seizures in children and babies

What are the signs and symptoms of a seizure?

Seizures can present in many different ways:

  • Involuntary twitching
  • Sudden change in consciousness
  • Unusual eye movements
  • A vacant stare
  • Numbness or inability to use a certain part of the body
  • Unconsciousness
  • Convulsions
  • There may be associated incontinence of urine or stool

What causes a seizure?

A seizure results from abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. These abnormal discharges in the brain cause the signs and symptoms mentioned above.

What is a febrile seizure?

This is a seizure that is caused by a high fever. Most cases of febrile seizures are harmless and resolve after age 5. Your doctor may recommend using fever-reducing medications.

When can I treat a seizure at home?

A healthcare professional should assess any child who has a seizure, unless your own physician specifically advises you otherwise. Always begin the initial first aid measures as described below immediately

First aid measures

  • Remain calm. Do not panic
  • Place your child on the floor in an area that is safe
  • Remove any objects around your child to make the area safe
  • Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck, head or face
  • When the seizure stops, roll your child onto his side
  • Seek medical attention once the seizure stops.

Call 911 immediately if any of the following are present:

  • Change in skin color, especially blueness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Any history of head injury, present or past
  • If you suspect your child may have ingested or has been exposed to a poison
  • If your child has a heart problem
  • If your child appears unwell
  • If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes
  • If you are concerned for any other reason

What not to do

  • Do not try to put anything in a child’s mouth while he is having a seizure.
  • Do not try to forcibly stop any seizure movements.
  • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink right after a seizure. There is a period immediately following a seizure called the “post-ictal” period. In this state your child may be sleepy and trying to swallow anything may lead to choking.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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