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Seizures (fits) in children

During a seizure, lots of muscles in the body contract uncontrollably. It’s also called a convulsion or fit. Seizures are caused by something interrupting the electrical activity in the brain and they usually make someone lose responsiveness.

Seizures can be a symptom of epilepsy. However, epilepsy is very rare in children.

In children, seizures normally happen as a result of a high temperature, or because of an infection such as a throat or ear infection. This is because the electrical systems in their brain are not developed enough to deal with the body’s high temperature.

It can be very worrying for parents to see their child having a seizure, but if dealt with properly it is rarely dangerous. Still, you should always take your child to the doctor afterwards so they can check what may have caused the seizure.

What to look for - Seizures

If you think a child is having a seizure, there are seven key things to look for:

  1. 1. Vigorous shaking with clenched fists and an arched back
  2. 2. Signs of fever – hot, flushed skin, and sweating
  3. 3. Twitching of their face and squinting, fixed or upturned eyes
  4. 4. Holding their breath, with a red, puffy face and neck, and drooling at the mouth
  5. 5. Possible vomiting
  6. 6. Loss of control of their bowel or bladder
  7. 7. Partial or full loss of responsiveness

What you need to do - Seizures

• Don’t restrain or move them. Instead, protect them from hurting themselves. Clear away any potentially dangerous objects, like hot drinks or sharp objects, and put pillows or soft padding around them.

Child seizure

baby after seizure

• Cool them down. Take away any bedding and take off a layer of clothing. Make sure they get some fresh air by opening a door or window, but be careful you don’t cool them down too much.

• Once the seizure has stopped, they’re usually very sleepy or unresponsive, so put them into the recovery position to help them keep their airway open. Then call 999 or 112 for emergency medical help.

• Reassure them – and whoever’s looking after them, if that is not you.

• While you wait for help to arrive, keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.

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