Seeing a child or young person having a seizure can be frightening. Most seizures do not cause serious harm. The commonest type of seizure in children is a febrile convulsion – this is a seizure associated with a high temperature. This sort of seizure tends to occur in younger children. Seizures sometimes occur without a fever (afebrile seizure). If your child has had only one afebrile seizure, it does not always mean they have epilepsy. Many children will never have another one.
First aid for a convulsive seizure:
A convulsive seizure is where the child is stiff or shaking. The information below can help you to focus when your child is having a seizure. It can help you to give first aid to keep them safe:
• Stay calm
• Protect them from injury (remove harmful objects from nearby)
• Cushion or gently hold your child’s head to protect them from head injury
• Note the date and time the seizure started – if stiffness and / or jerking continues for 5 minutes or more you should call 999 for an ambulance
• Turn your child onto their side, into the recovery position (see below) as soon as you are able (as shown in Image 1). This can help with their breathing and help if they vomit or have other types of fluid in their mouth. Some noisy breathing and slight colour change is common
• If possible, try to video the seizure on a mobile phone as it can provide a lot of useful information to your child’s doctor or nurse. Video can help confirm the type of seizure which then helps decide which tests and treatment may be needed. Try to capture the whole child in the video, say out loud what you are seeing and show how they respond to you
• Stay with your child until they are fully recovered
• Your child may be confused, drowsy or fall asleep after a seizure – reassure them if they are confused, let them rest or sleep if they are drowsy, make sure you keep an eye on them until they are fully recovered
• Restrain or restrict your child’s movements
• Move your child unless they are in danger
• Put anything in their mouth
• Give your child anything to eat or drink until they have fully recovered
Call 999 for an ambulance if:
• The stiffness and / or jerking continues for 5 minutes or more
• One seizure follows another before your child has fully recovered
• Your child is injured, or you are worried about their breathing
Moving a child into the recovery position:
Phone 999 or go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a member of staff from your GP practice or to NHS 111 staff, then consider taking them to your nearest Emergency Department
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111
Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.
A febrile seizure is a convulsion that occurs in some children with a high temperature (fever). Although it can be extremely scary the first time you see your child have one, most of the time they are not serious. Most occur with common illnesses such as ear infections, colds and other viral infections. Full recovery with no permanent damage is usual. The main treatment is aimed at the illness that caused the fever.
Who gets them?
If your child has had only one afebrile seizure, it does not always mean they have epilepsy. Some children will never have another one. In addition, children can have events that look very similar to a seizure, but they are not; these include faints, tics, day dreams, sleep disorders and breath-holding attacks. However, if your child has more than one seizure, they will need to investigated for possible epilepsy.
Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.
Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.
Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.
Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:
For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?
School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.
Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.
There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.
Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.
They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-
Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.
Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.
For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?
A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.