Febrile seizure – can it happen to your healthy kid?

15 Feb , 2019  

Never mind that your kid has always been in the pink of health and rarely falls sick. Never mind that your child is 1 or 2 or 3 or 5 or 6. Never mind that your child hardly suffers any fevers from immunisations and whatnots, because my child is all that, and yet, he had a febrile seizure on CNY eve which is the F****** scariest thing EVER.

This year, it’s our family’s first time away from Singapore during CNY. We’ve been missing from social media during this time because well, courtesy of Sarang, he and I checked into a (hospital) “suite” on reunion dinner day.

So here’s the story – on CNY eve, Pips took half day off work so the usual last minute pre-CNY Marie-Kondoish stuff- packing. THANK GOD HE DID THAT because when Sarang’s fever suddenly hit an alarming high of 41.5deg c later that evening, we could drive straight to the hospital. Phew.

MORNING STATUS – chirpy, talkative and bratty as usual.

Anyhow, Sarang was fine that morning. Nonstop talking, with bits of brattiness here and there. He ate well as usual, and I went about my usual routine and shipped both boys off to school, yay!

AFTERNOON STATUS – lethargic, started to have a fever. In 30mins, temp hit a high of 41.5deg C

When I went to pick Sarang up at 12, he was reticent and just quietly got into his buggy without interacting much. Very unlike him hmm. In fact, he fell asleep in the buggy on the 5 min journey home. That should have been a sign that something was slightly amiss but after a few days of sleep regression, I was more than ready to chalk his napping as a stroke of good fortune!

However, Sarang started to run a fever whilst napping and after he woke up, he was grouchy and clingy, and continued to drift in and out of sleep. Dude was running a fever that hovered at 39 (+) degrees. Pips asked if we should medicate him, but I felt that we should just observe how he was for a while more.

This is because for 99% of the time, my boys’ fevers don’t last beyond a day, don’t go above 40, and after  a good sleep, they go right back into bouncing and running amok in the house. I reckoned that this was going to be one of those times. Sighs, complacency is the downfall of men indeed. Pips mostly took care of Sarang while I prepped our dinner stuff.

Sarang was extremely lethargic the entire afternoon

EVENING STATUS – threw up his lunch, and still sluggish

Just when I was done with the prep for our steamboat dinner at about 6, Pips announced that we should head right to the hospital because in the last 30mins, Sarang’s fever had rapidly risen and breached 40deg, hitting a high of 41.5deg😱. We made plans to go to the hosp, dressed the boys  and got them ready. During this time, Sarang threw up the raspberries he had for lunch🤢, (which was the only thing he was willing to eat earlier) and cleaning up meant that we were a little delayed. Meanwhile, I took his temperature again, and in this short time, it went down to 40, which I felt reassured by, so much so that I was asking Pips if we should pack up some dinner for Ray so he could eat in the hospital (which Pips said no to, luckily!)

CAR JOURNEY – sudden onset of FEBRILE SEIZURE while on the way to the hospital

6.5 hours had passed since Sarang came back from nursery. While his temperature mostly maintained at 39+ deg C the entire time, it suddenly spiked beyond 40 in the last hour. We bundled the boys up and drove to the hospital. At this point, Sarang was increasingly whiny and lethargic at the same time. Enroute, I kept checking on him via the baby mirror we installed in the car. Halfway to the hospital, which thankfully, is less than a 10 minute ride from our house, Sarang let out a growl/sound, and suddenly started shaking with his both fists clenched. Immediately, I knew he was suffering from a febrile seizure and climbed to the back of the car to check on him.

By this point in time, I was panicking and in tears because his eyes had rolled backwards, he was unresponsive, his fists were shaking and he clamped his mouth tightly. I was convinced that the most terrible thing had befallen my child. It was extremely distressing to see your otherwise bubbly, demanding 2yo brat not being able to respond at will. I tried to massage the back of his neck and talk to him while sobbing but he didn’t respond. He then stopped shaking his fists, but remained very rigid and unresponsive. Pips told me not to let him bite his tongue, and passed me his wallet for Sarang to bite on.

As Sarang was unresponsive, I ‘opened up’ his mouth with my hands and stuck my two thumbs at either side of his teeth so that there was a small gap in his mouth. Still unresponsive, he clamped down his mouth forcefully and his bite was so strong that I could not remove my thumbs at all. He also started to throw up gooey liquid in dribs and drabs that drooled out of his mouth. Pips had to stop the car to gently prise Sarang’s mouth so I could release my thumbs, and put his wallet in that small gap so that Sarang could bite on it as it was soft.

*PLEASE NOTE that after reading up on febrile convulsions, we are NOT supposed to put anything into the affected child’s mouth as it can cause them to choke (on their own vomit or otherwise)* More details on what ought to be done and avoided later.

When we first arrived at the hospital, this was how Sarang was

About three minutes had passed since Sarang had the seizure, with one minute or less of active shaking with both fists, followed by two minutes thereabouts of rigidness and drooly vomit. When we arrived at the hospital, Pips took Sarang out of his carseat and tried talking to him but he was still unresponsive, which Pips later told me alarmed him greatly as well. I carried Sarang over from Pips and quickly went to the receptionist, announcing like the frenzied mad woman that I must have been, that my child has had a fit and needed to see the doctor immediately. Meanwhile, Pips drove off to park the car.

AT THE HOSPITAL – monitoring devices on, X-Ray done, blood tests taken, brief moment of lucidity

I am so incredibly thankful that right away, two or three doctors on duty came over, and one of them carried Sarang over from me, brought him to a room and laid him down on the bed. They stripped him of his winter jacket and clothes, leaving only his nappies on, put a monitoring device on him to check his oxygen levels and pulse, and gave him an oxygen mask as his oxygen levels were slightly low.

Sarang’s clothes were quickly stripped off later in a bid to bring his temperature down

While they were doing this, Sarang cried at one point, “mummy” and man, have I never felt gladder to hear him wail for me! I went to his side and talked to him while the doctors went about their work, and he could reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the questions I asked. After this brief moment of lucidity though, Sarang once again drifted back to sleep, and one of the many doctors who checked in on him explained that there was no need to worry; his fatigue was normal as his body was trying to recover from the fit. As it was Sarang’s first time suffering from a febrile convulsion though, the doctor wanted to locate the source of infection (his chest was congested. Prior to this, both Ray and Sarang had very chesty, phelgmy coughs) and asked if they could run an X-ray, take some blood samples and possibly keep him in the ward overnight for further observation in case he had a recurrence of fit. Of course we agreed to everything. (gulp, to date, we have yet to receive the hospital bill LOL).

Different doctors checking on Sarang while he was too tired to be bothered

Going to another room for his chest X-Ray while having an oxygen mask on

Finally after some time, Sarang roused from his sleep, and we proceeded to another room for his chest X-ray. Pips went in with Sarang while I stayed outside with Ray. If you are wondering about the level of empathy/comprehension a 5yo boy has amidst all this fuss, I’d say it stands at about 15%. Curiosity took top spot above empathy and concern, as Ray asked questions about what the doctors were doing, what Sarang was doing etc. When I asked Ray how he felt, he said he felt “Okay”. Yup, my 5yo was about as empathetic as a soggy paper cardboard, which is normal for 5yos I suppose. While waiting in the ward while the doctors did checks on his brother, Ray even asked me to adjust the tv screen in the ward for him, which was playing Peppa Pig LOL.

Moving to our “CNY LUXURY SUITE”

After being lethargic for about an hour plus/two, Sarang was finally more energetic, and ‘woke up from his stupor’. Pips bought us all Pret-a-Manger for our reunion dinner, which we ate in the emergency room while waiting for the doctors to move us to a ward for Sarang’s overnight observation. Thereafter, the medical professionals put a tube thingy on Sarang so meds could be given through that, and this fatty was quite nonchalant about it. He was also excited to see animal murals on the hospital walls. It was sooooo good to see him all animated again, phew! At about 10pm, Pips went home with Ray while I stayed with Sarang and he mostly slept well though he woke up a few times asking for milk. I guess it was comforting to him.

Having his mucus sample taken as part of investigations to identify the type of infection 

Having his saliva?? LOL (I am not very sure what was taken) taken for further investigation

The day after – mostly back to normal

Sarang was mostly back to normal the next morning, though he woke up at an ungodly hour of 5am after having slept away most of the previous day. He demanded to eat bread, whined about it, demanded to get off the bed and out of the room so he could play with toys and trains, demanded to have his shoes on so he could get out, and basically being his bossy, bratty self which was a HUGE RELIEF. If your kid was especially trying this CNY, erm, try to be glad he has the energy to be a bratty little snot? I know it’s not easy when you’re in the thick of a full-on meltdown but wow, having a healthy little asshole pissing the crap out of me again felt especially good this CNY, though that overwhelming feeling of love and relief is slowly whittling away by the day hurhur.

Back to playing with trains and toys … all’s good!


At the hospital, we were given paracetamol and antibiotics to keep Sarang’s fever down and in case there was a bacterial infection. I questioned on the need for the antibiotics given that it could be a viral illness, and that it could in turn build up unnecessary antibiotic resistance. The paed asked if I was from the medical profession LOL. Nope, good sir, I am just a mom who is concerned about helping my kids to grow up as healthily as possible! Anyway, I was satisfied with the good doc’s explanation for prescribing antibiotics, and over the next two days, Sarang was actually dependent on the paracetamol to keep his fever down. I know that for  fact because when I stretched the application of paracetamol by an hour on Day 2, his fever gradually climbed up. In total, he was dependent on paracetamol for 3 days (including the febrile seizure day). Appetite was a little less than normal, and he was also a lot clingier than usual.

back to normal a few hours after his seizure, phew!

Otherwise, I am happy to report that he was largely fine and back to being his boisterous self. A follow up with the doctor eventually revealed that he had two different types of viral infections (not bacterial), so my hunch was right! Still, I am satisfied with the doc’s reason for prescribing antibiotics as I mentioned earlier (reason being even if Sarang didn’t have a bacterial infection, his feverish state and febrile convulsion made him highly susceptible to bacterial infections at a point when we didn’t want to risk it in his vulnerable state). Almost two weeks on, it feels as if that whole febrile convulsion episode has never happened. Sarang is full up and running again, yay!

yes, he calls his big brother “Ray” sometimes lol.


Febrile convulsion, aka febrile seizure or fever fit, is a fit/seizure that is commonly associated with a high body temperature. As the word febrile suggests, it mostly afflicts children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Kids of this age range are more susceptible to febrile seizures when they encounter high fevers, especially if the fever has rapidly risen (as per Sarang) as their immature brains are unable to cope with the high temperatures.

Most seizures last less than 5 minutes and there are two main types of febrile seizures – (1) Simple febrile seizure  and (2) complex febrile seizure with the former involving a convulsion that involves a general part of the body (e.g both fists shaking), and lasting less than 10mins, whereas a complex febrile seizure lasts more than 10mins, and generally has focal features (e.g. shaking of an arm or a leg etc instead of both). The general prognosis for febrile convulsion is good, with no lasting damage to the child’s development of note, although a complex febrile seizure has a higher chance of the child developing epilepsy.


  1. Most injuries associated with febrile convulsion are when the child hits a furniture etc when suffering a seizure. So try to make some space for the kid.
  2. Lay the child on his side so that his airways are clear and he doesn’t choke on his vomit (if it happens)
  3. Take note of the length of the seizure, the type of violent shaking (one hand or both?) as it will help medical professionals to determine the type of seizure it is, and whether further checks are necessary.
  4. Loosen the child’s clothing if he is all wrapped up, and thereafter, remove all clothing if he’s running a temperature. The aim is to bring down the kid’s temperature quickly.
  5. Sponge the kid with tepid water thereafter to quickly bring down the temperature, as the evaporation of water will decrease the high temperature.
  6. DO NOT put anything into  child’s mouth when they’re having a fit as this can pose a danger to the kid. One such old wives’ tale is to put a metal spoon into the kid’s mouth. DO NOT DO THIS, it can shatter your child’s teeth. Even after a week had passed, my thumb still felt a little sore, that’s how strong Sarang’s bite was. It’s back to feeling normal now though, phew. It must be noted though, that a side effect/injury of a seizure is when the affected person accidentally bites the tongue or cheek. Although they will not die, it sounds painful still but apparently nothing can nor should be done about it from a medical standpoint as the only aftereffects are bad ulcers.
  7. If it is your child’s first seizure or if your child is young or has a case of complex febrile seizure, bring your child to be assessed by the doctor.

So this concludes my post on febrile convulsion. Phew. It is my personal opinion but I think that a big reason why my kids rarely had extended fevers is because of all the goodness from breastfeeding. I truly believe in the magical properties of breastmilk and their antibodies. Alas, me being preggers now means that the milk in my boobies are as dry as the Sahara desert which in turn, means that Sarang has no milk to help him to recover faster. The good news is, at 28 wks thereabouts, I’ve noticed colostrum starting to come in (very little, minuscule amts lol) so hopefully, it’ll help Sarang be a little stronger (yes, korkor Ray is weaned off boobies, but not Sarang yet!).

Also, do share this info with your friends or whoever is taking care of your child when you’re working. Febrile seizure, when it happens, is extremely distressing and frightening, and can send anyone into a panic. You don’t want to be applying poor methods (eg insertion of objects) into your child’s mouth at such a time and risk injuring him. Lastly, Happy CNY guys! Wishing all of you an abundance of health and wealth (in order of importance) for the year of the Pig!



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Gratuitous shot of my happy, healthy monkey and me (with messy hair, who cares!)

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