Sunday, May 27, 2007

Febrile seizures vs. young children, an uneven battle!

If you have ever gone through a febrile seizure with your child for the first time, you might know what it feels like to experience the fear of death.

In 1986, when I was a young mother, I took my daughter who was 6 months old to the doctor to check out a high fever that she had for 2 days. The fever was 103 degrees. She was pale looking and had gone through flu-like symptoms.

While waiting in the doctor's office with my baby sleeping in my arms, suddenly, she went limp. I panicked and screamed out "nurse, nurse, my baby!" Prior to that, the nurse had taken her temperature which was now up to 104. The nurse grabbed her swiftly out of my arms. Several nurses ran in at once and then the doctor.

It was like an emergency room setting. They were quickly asking me questions. Realizing her temperature was rising rapidly, they began to administer ice applications to bring her fever down. Frantically as they were working on her I was in shock and wondered if she was going to die.

After examining her, the doctor gave me the diagnose that she had a febrile seizure. He assured me that there was nothing to be concerned about and that she would grow out of this. He explained the causes of the seizure and how this was not like an epileptic seizure. However, he told me she could have it again in the future whenever she would have her next fever.

He gave me baby Tylenol suppositories and told me to administer it whenever I saw a rise in a fever again. I was told to put her in tepid water if this continued not to work. He said it occurs typically with children under the age of 5 and they do grow out of it. So I had to put my faith in the doctor.

Well, 6 months later, she had another seizure. I was lying next to her while she was taking a nap. I turned to look at her. I observed her eyes opening and rolling back in her head. She then started to shake. I tried to recall what the doctor informed me and carried out his instructions. It was so hard because she was also turning blue and wasn't breathing. I was just praying the doctor was providing me correct advice. I quickly took the suppositories and administered it.

Then I went right to the bathtub and submerged her in tepid water as he advised. She wasn't breathing at this point and turning blue. I called the office in panic and as I was talking to them, she fell asleep in my arms with a peaceful look. He then told me to bring her in. Both times the seizures lasted for maybe a minute.

After that last episode, he prescribed for her to take phenol barbital for 6 months. She was walking at 9 months. When she had to take the phenol barbital it was like watching a drunken baby. It is administered for seizures. However, you should be careful getting immunization shots when you know your child is prone to febrile seizures. She never had a seizure again.

Febrile seizures happen in 2-4% of small children when a fever quickly climbs. Even though you're told that there is nothing to be concerned about you should always seek medical help to find out the reason for the fever.

Some of the symptoms of a febrile seizure can range from mild to severe. An example of mild symptoms would be rolling of the eyes and severe symptoms would be shaking or tightening of the muscles.

Some of the other symptoms can be:

A fever over 102 rising quickly

Losing consciousness

Loss of urine


They classify the seizures as:

Simple febrile seizure lasting from a few seconds to 15 minutes and it stops on its own. After this the child may cry or just go to sleep.

Complex febrile seizures last longer than 15 minutes and occur more frequently, more than once in 24 hours. It can also be confined to one side of the child.

It was a traumatic experience for a young mother. I didn't have the Internet for researching as we do today. I would encourage all mothers to research any childhood symptoms or concerns. We mothers have to play an important part in the decision making. I had to take the doctor's word at face value.

If I did have the research capabilities I might not have chosen this solution. She didn't have to have the drug because she would have grown out of it. I believe he prescribed it more for me to calm a young mother rather than it being a necessary solution for my baby. It is a strong drug. It relaxes the brain and nervous system. Here are some of the more serious side effects I found on phenobarbital today.

An allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

An irregular or fast heart rate;

or Eye pain

There are mild side effects too. If I knew what it really did and what possible side effects there were, I probably wouldn't have allowed it. This is an excerpt from an a site called Medical Wisdom.
Prolonged daily use of oral anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital or valproate, to prevent febrile seizures is usually not recommended because of their potential for side effects and questionable effectiveness for preventing such seizures.
Knowledge is power.

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