Every week, Edwin de Vaal (48), general practitioner in Nijmegen, answers a frequently asked or striking question from his practice. This week is "My child has a fever, what should I do?"
What is a febrile seizure?
"In a febrile seizure, the body temperature rises too quickly and the brain cannot adapt to it as quickly. It often occurs in children between the ages of six months and six years. Most often around the age of one and a half."
"When it arises, it is always at the beginning of a fever period, when the fever is just starting to come up. As a result, the febrile seizure sometimes seems to come out of the blue. As a parent you often did not yet realize that your child was getting feverish. "
What kind of complaints does a child have?
"The brain cannot adapt to the rapid rise in temperature, causing a kind of short circuit. This can manifest itself in stiffening, muscle spasms and shocking arms or legs. Often children roll their eyes and stretch completely, making strange noises. . "
That sounds serious.
"It sounds serious and it often looks scary for parents. Sometimes a child also stops breathing. It is therefore logical that many parents get stressed and sometimes immediately call an ambulance."
“Make sure your child's mouth is empty so that they cannot choke on anything during the fever. Lay the child on its side and make sure it cannot hurt itself. ”
But that is not necessary?
"No. It is a phenomenon that hardly ever has serious consequences. Some parents fear that their child dies during a febrile seizure. But that does not happen. It also does not damage the brain."
"Usually it disappears after a few minutes or at the latest within fifteen minutes. After that, a child is a bit dazed, but that also disappears. Within an hour after the fever, it is the old one again, only it now has a fever."
Don't you have to do anything at all?
"Yes. Make sure your child's mouth is empty so that he won't choke on anything during the febrile seizure. Put the child on his side and make sure he doesn't hurt himself."
"In practice, you could just wait until the seizure is completely over. But the advice is, after you have brought your child to safety, to consult with the doctor, especially if you have never experienced it before."
"The doctor then asks how it is and usually comes along. In most cases, febrile seizures pass quickly and we do not see them when we arrive. But because it is very frightening to experience, it is nice that the doctor your child will see it for a while. "
When should you definitely call the doctor?
"I would always call for consultation. In any case, call if a febrile seizure is different than usual. For example, if your child is younger than six months or older than six years, if the shocks last longer than fifteen minutes or only on one arm or And also call the doctor if your child has several febrile seizures in one fever period. Then there may be something else going on. "