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Febrile convulsions

(21 Posts)
Niddlynono Fri 25-Feb-05 21:49:55

DS (2.5 yrs) had a febrile convulsion last week. He'd had an ear infection and a high temperature and despite every effort to cool him down (including giving him a luke-warm bath at 2.30am) he had a convulsion and subsequent trip in an ambulance to A&E where he was discharged hours later.

Has anyone else had experience of febrile convulsions? Same DS had 3 in the space of a couple of hours when he was 1 and was kept in hospital for a week. The most frightening night of my life. In the middle of the night, DH working v.v.v.v.late, DS started to fit, I thought my precious son was dying in my arms.

After that episode I thought I knew what to look out for and how to cool him down.

This time, bitch of a doctor made me feel like I'd contributed to his condition because I'd given him a luke-warm bath (the advice I was given last time) which, apparently, is contrary to the advice they give out now.

They tell me that if it happens again, unless the fit lasts for more than 5 minutes I don't need to call 999. Are they mad?

Has anyone else been through this without calling for an ambulance? Can't believe how laid back the paramedics were this time - no sense of urgency which I suppose is reassuring but it's such a shocking thing to watch your beloved child go through.

Thankfully DS is fine now but I feel guilty for not doing the right thing even though that's what I was told.

All credit to the 999 operators and ambulance staff both times though. I couldn't do their jobs.

KBear Fri 25-Feb-05 21:54:16

Bex - have been through exactly the same thing twice (once on Christmas Day last year) and called an ambulance both times. It was exactly the thing to do - my DS stopped breathing and went blue so there was no way I would wait and see. I think I'm just recovering from the shock and I even took his temp tonight cos he looked at bit rosy. He's 3.5 by the way.

KBear Fri 25-Feb-05 21:56:50

the paramedics in both cases were very calm and reassuring and said that I was right to call an ambulance - I did say that when it's "your" child you can't help but be panic-stricken. I thought my boy was going to die - dramatic I know but true.

Ooh, it's all coming back to me now, the utter fear and panic.

I would definitely call 999 again - especially when you get to the hosp and see all the pissed up arseholes who've arrived by ambulance. If they get one so do I.

Niddlynono Fri 25-Feb-05 22:06:37

Thanks KBear. Sorry that you've been through that too. Horrific isn't it?
You're right about the ambulance. Touch wood it won't happen again but if it does I'll be dialling 999 without a second thought now.
Hope your DS doesn't have any more.

ChicPea Sun 27-Feb-05 00:40:41

Bex, this is an interesting post but horrid that you and KBear have been through something so frightening with children at a good age, ie not a fragile newborn.

Bex, you say that the luke warm bath is contrary to advice given now. Can you outline steps that mothers should take when a child has a temperature please and what does a parent do if a child does have a febrile convulsion? Is there a way of holding a child when this happens?

KBear, did you have to resusitate your DS?

Horrendous experience, but please post as it will, I'm sure, help other MumsNetters.

daisy1999 Sun 27-Feb-05 11:08:49

This is a very frightening thing to happen. My dd had 1 at 18months. Many children have a febrile convulsion and never have another one. My dd did go on to have more. It is the worst thing I have ever seen and I too thought she was dying. However it looks far worse than it is and most children will have grown out of them completely by 5yrs.
We had conflicting advice about bathing, however I believe that one of her convulsions was contributed to by a bath. If they cool too quickly then the body shivers and can cause them to heat up.
I have always given calpol and nurofen (nurofen is always the most effective with dd), if she is shivering and her legs are cold I cover her legs with a sheet, strip her off to one layer of clothing (a vest), and I cool her by combing her hair with a wet comb.
I have called 999 every time, go with your instincts. Even though I know this is not as serious as it looks it is very frightening to watch your child going through this.

hermykne Sun 27-Feb-05 12:01:11

this happened to my neighbours littlegirl of 9mths last saturday, i was at the sink, and heard sopmeone literally banging my front door dowm, out iwent and she was there with her in her arms completely limp, ears at the back of the sockets, green and i was in shock, screamed for my husband outside in the shed, and he came in, he took the baby put her in the recovery position and mary her mum went for water, i rang 999, who were here v quickly, the little baby lost her bowel motions mark was about to do a b c 's on herwhen she vomitted.
it all happened so fast.
she came around but was looking terrible.

the advice mary got was luke warm bath, its nothing to do with external temp but their internal mechanism to deal with it, nurofen and they got a suppository in the hospital for her, i cantremember why or if its in case of it happening again.
it was frightening.
the ambulance people were very efficent as i said on the phone it was a baby, 8/9mths.

shes ok now and they are prpeapred for it happening again - up to the age of 3, i believe.

ChicPea Sun 27-Feb-05 20:34:06

Awful stories but thank goodness these children have survived. Can a fit of this nature ever result in a death I wonder? Sorry to be so morbid.

What temperature is dangerous and for how long before you can be worried of a possible febrile convulsion? Does anyone know?

hermykne Sun 27-Feb-05 20:39:30

my neighbours dd was not hot externally and she has been advised that its nothing to do with bedclothes, she was in the bed at the time , its internal. she certainly wasnt hot in my house and that was maybe 7mins after it happened,
but again i am not sure.
it happens very quickly that i do know NOW

ChicPea Sun 27-Feb-05 20:45:53

Golly. So you can't even anticipate it? What happens if baby/child is in bed - would it automatically cry prior to the fit or would it just stay quiet? Or what if the parents are out and a babysitter was left in charge of the child? We need to know how to deal with this.

hermykne Sun 27-Feb-05 20:58:25

exactly chic pea, what would a baby sitter do, really the signs are that of a fit, plus the child becomes very lethargic and may collapse if up, the eyes go into a distant stare gaze. some families it runs in.
so first aid a necessity for all baby minders and parets alike.
my dh criticises me for going "yehyeh" when he is telling me what to do in an emergency, from tyres to baby stuff, but last weekend changed my attitude i can tell you.

psychomum5 Sun 27-Feb-05 21:07:00

I have 5 kiddies, one of whom suffers febrile convulsions almost every time she gets a high temp!
DD3 is now 6 and has been having convulsion since she was 18mths old. The first time I honestly thought she was dying. She was actually in my arms at the time, the only and most natural place she wanted to be, and she had had calpol etc for the temp. My M-I-L was there at the time, and I was chatting to her when I realised that Natasha was twitching. As I looked down, I saw that she was totally blue and fitting. I screamed at my m-i-l in terror, and she took her from me and said to dial 999. They couldn't have been better. They calmed me down and told me what to do while waiting for the ambulance....strip her of and fan a magazine over her. She was still fitting when the ambulance arrived, and still again when we got to the hospital. It took ages and many meds to stop the fit (about 30mins I think), and she was kept in while they did tests. It turned out that time to be bronchial pnuemonia. Since then, she has fitted lots, and she is now on perminent open access to hospital (ie, we go in whenever she is ill bypassing the gp)
When she gets high temps now, we give the required doses of calpol and nurofen (she needs both as they work better for her), and strip her down to vest n knickers. If she seems close to fitting, we stick fans around her and open windows. If that still fails, we wait the fit out, and then take her to A&E for a check over. If she still needs to be seen by the paeds, then she gets admitted, but more often than not now it's more than likely an ear infection and just needs antibiotics, so can just go home.
Most fits only last 3-5 mins tho, so please don't panic about me saying about DD3's fit lasting so long. She was really sick then which was the reason at that point.
If your child does have another convulsion, do what you think is best, and if that means dialling 999 then do so. Don't let any doctor prevent you from doing what comes naturally...most doctors insist that if a child is poorly enough to fit, they are poorly enough to need medical attention!

psychomum5 Sun 27-Feb-05 21:09:35

Forgot to say...most kiddies grow out of the tendency to fit by the time they are daughter is unusual in still fitting at the age of 6, and I will admit, she hasn't had one now for more than 4mths, so is maybe growing out of them anyway herself.

Niddlynono Sun 27-Feb-05 21:25:54

Sorry this is going to be a long one...

I was given a leaflet before DS was discharged recently. The advice it gave is as follows:

_Febrile convulsions / Temperature Control_

If your child has a high temperature, try to keep him/her cool by:
- Removing most of his/her clothing, leaving one thin layer (ideally cotton), or leave him/her under a thin sheet.
- Give paracetamol as instructed on the bottle.
- Cool the room by opening windows to increase the air flow. If you have a fan this may be used, but ensure this is not pointed directly at your child.
- It is important not to make your child so cold that they shiver, as this will tend to put the temperature up again.

If your child has another convulsion:
- Lie him/her on his/her side, so that his/her tongue falls to the side and any vomit is not inhaled.
Make sure there is nothing in his/her mouth.
- There is no need to put anything in the mouth to stop the tongue being bitten.

If the convulsion does not stop after 5 minutes:
- Your child may need special medication.
- Call your doctor, but if not immediately available your child will need to come straight to the A&E Dept. You will need to call an ambulance.
- It is better not to wrap your child up too much for the journey.

When to call the doctor:
- If the convulsion was brief and stopped on its own (as most do), infomr your doctor and arrange an appointment.
- If you cannot get your child's temperature down, or you are worried.

It is not uncommon for children under 5 to have convulsions with a high temperature. Most children grow out of them and have no further problems.

Your doctor at the hospital will decide if your child needs any special medicine for the convulsion, but most children don't.
Both times my DS had febrile convulsions they were preceded by a very high temperature (around 40/41 degrees I think) so obviously I was concerned about him anyway and so he was sleeping in my bed, fortunately, and both times I was lying awake next to him so I realised he was fitting immediately. I don't know what would have happened if he was in his own room, if I'd have realised it was happening or not.

As far as I'm aware, febrile convulsions in themselves are not life-threatening and the child will usually come out of it naturally themselves but obviously the reason for the convulsion may be more complicated. DS had a throat infection the first time (I think) and an ear infection the next time which were seen to be the cause of his fever and subsequent convulsions.

daisy1999 Mon 28-Feb-05 16:24:33

I hope this thread hasn't worried parents, these are not that common and honestly are not as serious as they appear. Only about 3% of children will ever experience a febrile convulsion. With children who are prone to fit it is not a case of the temperature reaching a certain level, my daughter has had fits at relatively low temps but has then been fine with a higher temp.

Niddlynono Tue 01-Mar-05 13:31:11

Sorry, I hope nothing I've said has caused anyone to worry unnecessarily.

piffle Wed 02-Mar-05 20:52:16

Oh golly it is so scary the first few times it happens
my ds convulsed repeatedly as an under 4 yo (he is now 11) the first time was ambulance and scans etc
after the 3rd one, I gave him a breastfeed and cuddle and tucked him in my bed to sleep it off
You do learn to deal with it, but you also learn to zap temperatures early! Ds would convulse at anything over 38.5
I hope he is ok now and hugs for your worrying.
It is truly terrifying

ChicPea Thu 03-Mar-05 21:06:12

Bexiboo and Daisy, this is an informative thread about a very worrying situation. Having read through it and having asked you questions, I feel better prepared if either of my children were to have a febrile convulsion so thank you both!

albosmum Thu 03-Mar-05 21:32:05

Hope you are all fine now - I know how scary Febrile convulsions can be DS1 had v very unusual 45-50 min fit - dirst time then many more 2 min fits until he was about 3 years old - they even checked for epilepsy and eeg (i think)but he was fine.

Luckily so far ds1 10 months not had one yet.

But why do we not put them in the bath anymore?

Niddlynono Fri 04-Mar-05 12:30:25

Thanks everyone for your posts and I'm sorry to those of you who have gone through this with your children. I hope you don't have to go through it again.
I do feel a lot more relaxed now. I think partly because the ambulance men were sooooo laid back and also hearing about your stories, especially those whose children have had multiple convulsions, I'll be better prepared and hopefully less panic stricken if this does happen again.

One question I would like to ask mums of children who have had FCs. I don't want to be contentious and start a heated debate like other issues have done on MN recently but DH and I are discussing MMR at the moment. DS hasn't had it yet, partly because of our fear of an immunisation fever resulting in further convulsions. Although we do need to do more research so that we're fully informed before making a final decision DH is pro-single jabs mainly to reduce the risk of fever and therefore febrile convulsions. I however am happy to go ahead with the MMR, now that all the autism links have been disproved and I feel that whilst of course I wouldn't want DS to have further FCs I have believe it to be the more effective method.
At the follow up appointment that we had at the hospital after DS's first convulsions we asked about the MMR and his proneness to FCs and they recommended that we still do the MMR but they have to say that don't they?
We'd be very interested to hear what other parents, in a similar situation, have done.
Thanks again.

Albosmum - I'm horrified that your DS had such a long convulsion and can't imagine what you must have been through yourself. Hope all is well now.

With regards to the bath thing - according to the doctors I spoke to apparently they don't recommend it anymore because of the risk of reducing the temperature too quickly.

Thanks ChicPea, I'm glad that you've found it useful.

Niddlynono Mon 14-Mar-05 14:59:25


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