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Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Febrile Seizures

A febrile seizure, like any other type of seizure, can be frightening for a parent to watch. Febrile seizures are relatively common, occurring in 2 to 5 percent of all children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Still, it is understandable for you as a parent to worry about effects on your child's brain and the possibility that seizures might indicate a serious problem. Asking your doctor the right questions can help set your mind at ease if your child has had a febrile seizure.

What Causes Febrile Seizures?

One of the first questions you'll want to ask the pediatrician gets down to the root of a seizure problem. Ask your doctor directly what is causing your child to experience febrile seizures. His answer may or may not be definitive — sometimes the causes of febrile seizures are not clear. Carry a notebook with you so you can jot down important points. If the doctor uses terminology you don't understand, stop him right away and ask him to explain. Ask if he has literature about the causes of seizures so you can share the info with other family members.

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How Long Do Febrile Seizures Last?

This question actually has two parts that your doctor should address: How long does a typical febrile seizure last, and are the seizures likely to recur? Along with knowing how long a typical febrile seizure lasts, you will want to know at what point your doctor wants to be notified and if he wants to be called for all febrile seizures, or just those that last beyond a certain time frame. If your doctor says your child might have more than one febrile seizure, ask him to describe the typical ages at which febrile seizures start and stop, and whether your child has particular health risks for continued febrile seizures.

What Should I Do During a Febrile Seizure?

Talk to your doctor about what your role should be during a febrile seizure, including actions you should take and signs you should watch for that indicate that you should call 911. Ask him to describe what typically happens after a febrile seizure, how long it normally takes for a child to return to normal behavior after a febrile seizure and signs that indicate that your child is not responding in a typical manner after a seizure.

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Should My Child Take Medicine?

Ask your doctor whether you should always medicate your child when he has a fever, since high fevers may cause febrile seizures. You might also want to know the temperature level at which he recommends treating a fever. Your doctor can tell you what current studies say about whether fever medication prevents febrile seizures. He can also tell you if you need to keep prescription medication on hand for febrile seizures that last longer than normal and instruct you how to administer it.

Do Febrile Seizures Lead to Other Seizures?

You may be understandably concerned that having febrile seizures means that your child may be prone to having other types of seizures as well. Ask your doctor how likely this is and if there are signs of possible atypical seizure activity you should watch for.

Do Febrile Seizures Cause Brain Damage?

It's quite normal to be concerned about the effects of seizure activity on your child's brain development. Talk to your doctor about whether febrile seizures have the potential to injure your child's brain. Ask him to describe at what point a febrile seizure might lead to brain damage and signs you should watch for in your child's development.

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