Will was up one night watching TV when he heard a noise from his one-year-old daughter’s room. When he went to check on his daughter, Maren, she was lying face down and couldn’t get up.
Will immediately picked her up and realized her eyes weren’t focusing on anything. She then went rigid and was crying. Will and his wife, Natalie, knew something was wrong. They rushed her to Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital Emergency Department, which specializes in emergency pediatric care.
Doug Nassif, MD, associate medical director of the pediatric emergency department, was on call the night the family came in. After a brief medical history and exam, he immediately suspected that Maren was suffering from a febrile seizure. However, he needed to be sure nothing else was going on.
Earlier that day, Maren had been healthy before her dad found her whimpering in bed, not responding normally.
“When she got to the hospital, Maren had a heart rate over 100 beats per minute, was inconsolable and hot to the touch with a temperature of 103.6 Fahrenheit,” Dr. Nassif shares.
Immediately, Dr. Nassif and his team went to work to bring down Maren’s fever and look for a cause. After giving her fever-reducers, they circled back frequently to reassess her.
“Within 30 minutes she was calm, taking her pacifier and the stiffness had resolved,” Dr. Nassif recalls.
Later that night, test results came in and the cause of Maren’s fever was revealed to be due to Rhinovirus, or the common cold virus. After monitoring her closely for the appropriate amount of time, Dr. Nassif felt confident with his diagnosis of febrile seizure due to Rhinovirus. He discharged Maren, who went happily home with her parents at her baseline and in no distress.
Maren’s parents remember that terrifying night and are thankful St. Mary’s Hospital specializes in pediatric ER.
“All things considered, it was a great experience,” they share. “The team was responsive, caring and communicated well. The nurses sang to Maren during all the tests. Dr. Nassif was amazing – he explained everything calmly and helped us understand what he thought was happening. When we realized Maren was going to be OK, we felt absolute relief and gratitude … this experience provided perspective on how important specialized pediatric care is.”
Bon Secours St. Mary’s specialized pediatrics emergency department is a 14 bed-unit located at St. Mary’s Hospital that specializes in the care of infants, children and teenagers with medical emergencies.
“Infants, children and teens are both physically and emotionally different than adults. Thus, they face very different emergency conditions and injuries,” Blair Bell, DNP, RN, CPN, CNL, our pediatric specialties nurse manager, explains. “The St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department is staffed by board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physicians and dedicated, highly-trained pediatric nurses. So, when our local children have medical emergencies, the team at St. Mary’s is able to provide personal, specialized care for the youngest members of our community.”
Febrile seizures are seizures caused by fevers in children. They occur in less than 5 percent of kids six months to six years old, peaking around 12 months of age. Many of these children have a relative with a history of febrile seizures as well.
If you think your child is having a febrile seizure, do not panic and follow these steps:
- Turn their head to the side to prevent choking. Also, do not put anything in the child’s mouth.
- Try to time the event. If you can safely, record it on your phone to show your health care provider.
- Do not try to give oral medications or place in a bath to cool your child down.
- Call your child’s doctor if you are unsure what to do.
- If the seizure does not stop after five minutes, or your child is having trouble breathing or is turning blue, call 911 immediately.
While febrile seizures are typically diagnosed with health history and physical examination alone, it is important for parents to know that not all seizures in children are caused by fevers and not all febrile seizures are classic convulsions either. For this reason, we recommend having an expert in pediatric emergency care evaluate your child right away if you suspect a febrile seizure to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.