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Prevent Fits – July 1st, 2003
Dr. K. Vellayappan , Pediatrician
The main cause of fits in children is high fever. It is important for the parents to know how to bring down the fever first, in order for the fever not to cause a fit. Parents should always have fever medicines at home (eg) paracetamol-they should know the dosage and how often to give it.
Fever medicines comes in different strengths and colours. In order not to over dose, you must follow instructions from the doctor. Too much of paracetamol, too frequently may cause liver damage. It the fever is high there is another type of fever medicine which can be inserted into the anus.(eg) voltren, voren. This brings down the fever fast. You may ask the doctor and he will give you a few to standby at home in the fridge. The other measures to bring down the fever are equally important-tepid sponging especially if the fever is above 39 degree Celsius. Use tap water or Luke warm water to sponge. You also may use cold compresses over the fore head, nape of neck, armpits, groin. Do not sponge for more than half an hour. You must stop sponging, if the child shivers or the child skin becomes mottled. When your child shivers you cover him with clothing. Some parents mistakenly wrap the child with thick blankets. This is absolutely wrong, as this will increase the fever even further.
When the child is having a fit, it is important to turn the child sideways and extend the neck. This procedure will prevent aspiration of the saliva and the vomitus. Some parents waste the the precious time putting a spoon or finger into the mouth because they are afraid that the child may bite the tongue. This rarely happens and this should not be done at all, as they may break the child’s tooth which may accidentally be swallowed into the wind pipe. During the fit child will lose consciousness but do not pinch the child to wake him up. Usually the fit is self limiting. As the fever comes down and usually does not cast longer than 10 minutes. It the child has recurrent fits due to high fever, the doctor may prescribe a anti fit medicine in the form of a tube which can be inserted into the anus, and the contents of the tube can be squeezed into the rectum and the fit will stop very soon.
It is always advisable to consult the doctor when the child has a fit due to fever to ascertain the cause of the fever. Usually the fever in children is due to a viral infection, for which no medicine is needed. Occasionally the fever may be due to serious infection-(eg) meningitis (infection of the brain), urinary tract infection, pneumonia. In these instances child has to be admitted and treated in hospital with anti biotic.
Fits can be due to other causes.
For (eg) epilepsy.
In this condition, there is usually a family history of fits. Epilepsy can occur at any age and is not accompanied by fever. Special investigations (eg)
1. EEG (Electroencephalogram)
2. Scanning of brain.
These have to be done to exclude other causes of fits- (eg) blood clot in brain, cancer in the brain.
In epilepsy, children would have to take anti fit medicines regularly for a period of 2-3 years.