[Umm Muhammad is a part-time nurse and a full-time mother to a one year old masha’Allah. Her nursing experiences range from the birthing room to the emergency room.]
Have you ever gotten into a situation with your child where your mind went blank and you didn’t know what to do? I did recently… my son had a seizure because of his high fever. I had worked as an emergency department nurse in the past, but my brain was non functional when I was witnessing the seizure of my own child. Instead of jumping into emergency thinking when my son stopped breathing for a few seconds, my instincts told me to bring him into the prayer area of the Masjid and lay his unconscious body on the musalla. A friend took us to the nearest hospital, and after hours of poking and prodding, we were sent home on antibiotics. We were very cautious with him the next few days, especially when his fever skyrocketed to 105 the next night. It was the weekend and we debated taking him to the emergency department again, but decided to do every fever reducing trick we knew at home before having to go through another hospital experience. See, I was used to all the procedures done at the hospital. My poor husband, on the other hand, got a little faint when they were sticking catheter inside my son’s bladder… what man wouldn’t though? Anyways, Muhammad’s fever ended up decreasing slowly, and we took him to the pediatrician’s the following day. He continued to take the antibiotics for a week, and was back to his normal self within 3 or 4 days.
So when an emergency situation like this happens, it is better to be educated and prepared with a plan on hand, because a mother’s brain will always go blank seeing her child go through something unexpected.
Disclaimer (again)- this post is not meant to replace any medical advice, it is meant to educate and prepare. For medical issues, contact your pediatrician. For emergencies, dial 911 or head to the nearest hospital.
What is a febrile seizure?
A febrile seizure is a seizure caused by a fever, normally 102F-104F. It occurs in about 4% of children. If your child has ever had a febrile seizure, s/he has a 1/3 chance of having 1-3 reoccurrences by the time s/he is 4. Febrile seizures are generally harmless, cause no brain damage, and do not lead to a long term seizure disorder.
How do I know my child is having a seizure?
Seizures, or convulsions, have different manifestations. The child’s body may either become stiff, or jerking/ twitching movements may occur. The child may become unconscious or confused, his/her eyes may roll back, and the breathing may become loud. Following a seizure is a period called “postictal” state, in which the child may remain sleepy or confused for up to ten minutes.
What should I do if I suspect my child is having a seizure?
1) Lay the child on the ground in a safe area. Make sure not to hold or restrain child.
2) Take the child’s temperature immediately to determine if it is a febrile seizure or not.
3) If the child does have a fever, take his/her clothesoff, put cold wash cloths on the face, and give fever reducing medicine as soon as the child awakens.
4) If child vomits, turn his/her head to the side to prevent choking and protect the breathing.
5) Call your pediatrician. Your child may need to be seen in the office or you may be advised to take the child to the hospital.
6) Let the seizure run its course… there isn’t any non-medical method to stop a seizure once it has started. Also, avoid starting resuscitative breathing (CPR) if your child stops breathing during the seizure. If your child is not breathing once the seizure has run its course, CPR may be started as needed.
How do I prevent a febrile seizure?
1) Take methods to reduce your child’s fever during an illness or after immunizations (very important especially if your child has had a febrile seizure occurrence in the past)
2) Put your child in light clothing and a single layer of covering especially during sleep, since bundling the child may raise his/her temperature by 1-2 degrees.
3) Keep your child hydrated by offering lots of fluids.
Seizures, like other medical emergencies, will always be scary and difficult for parents to handle. Even though your mind might go blank during such an occurrence, it is our hope that some education about what to expect will reduce some worries and guide parents to ensure the safety of the child and proper actions to be taken during the event.