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Convulsions in Children

August 12th, 2013 | Posted by Ibrar in Being Prepared - (0 Comments)

Convulsions in children can be terrifying for parents, especially if there is no history of convulsion. A convulsion is also called a seizure or “fit.” A convulsion is a period of involuntary muscular contraction.Frightening as it may seem, it does not usually cause life-threatening situations or long-term consequences. They are not generally fatal. Febrile convulsions occur in an estimated 4% of all children between six months and five years of age, generally at ages younger than three. More than half of these children will only experience one convulsion in their lifetime. It is more common in young boys than girls and can run in families,

Convulsions in children, similar to those of adults, are caused by a sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The temporary disturbance of normal brain function causes a burst of abnormal electrical activity in one part of the brain and can spread to the other parts of the brain. When it reaches the cerebral cortex, more brain tissue activates and seizes resulting to abnormal activity. Repeated seizures are characteristic of epilepsy.

The contents of this article should not be used as substitute for medical advice. Enrol in first aid training and CPR courses to learn more about convulsions in children and other emergencies that children may have.

Causes of Convulsions in Children

It may be difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the seizure as it generally lasts from 30 seconds to a few minutes. However, some of the common causes are the following:

  • Epilepsy
    • Recurring convulsions
    • Febrile convulsions
      • Convulsion is due to high-grade fever/ infection
      • Especially common in children between nine months and five years of age, affecting mostly toddlers
      • Caused by flu or other infections in the body
      • Hypoglycemia
        • Low sugar levels in the body
        • Hypoxia
          • Reduced oxygen content in a particular region of the body
          • Hypotension
            • Low blood pressure
            • Electrolyte imbalance
            • Other uncommon causes in children:
              • Cerebral tumor
              • Drug overdose
              • Cardiac arrhythmias
              • Idiopathic or cryptogenic: of no identified cause

Symptoms of Convulsions in Children

Although it may be quiet obvious when a child is having a convulsion, some of the characteristics of seizures include:

  • Sudden tightening of muscles on both sides of the body
  • Muscle twitching and jerking
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Tongue biting
  • High-grade fever
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Foaming of the mouth
  • Child may be moaning or crying
  • Unresponsive
  • Unconsciousness
  • Post-seizure:
    • Lethargy
    • Confusion
    • Profound sleep

First Aid Management for Convulsions in Children

When a child starts convulsing, the main goal of first aid is to protect the child from any injury.

Hands behind the head when a person is having a seizure

Keep your hands behind the head when a child is having convulsions to prevent head injury.

  • If the child is standing, lay the child on a safe area. Make sure that the area is clear of sharp objects and other furniture that he/ she may hit.
  • Place a cushion or a jacket on the child head.
  • Loosen any tight clothing, especially those surrounding the neck.
  • Do not put anything in the child’s mouth as it may cause damage to the tongue and gums.
  • If the child begins to vomit, assist the child to his/ her side and clear the mouth.

Do not attempt to restrict movement as it may just lead to more harm to a convulsing child.

Hemoptysis or coughing up blood may be due to a wide range of lung conditions. Coughing up blood comes from the respiratory tract, either the Hemoptysislungs or the throat. Blood present in cough may range from frothy to pink or bright red or mixed with sputum. Coughing up blood is not always caused by a serious underlying disease. It is fairly common to produce a sputum tinged with little blood from time to time and does not usually connote call for alarm. Emergency medical services should be called if coughing up blood occurs frequently or blood appears in large quantities.

Types of Hemoptysis

                The common types of hemoptysis are mentioned below.

  • Blood-tinged sputum (very common)
    • Usually harmless
    • In the form of blood streaks or spots or clots in white mucus or yellow purulent sputum
    • Caused by pneumonia, bronchitis or laryngitis
    • Pure coughing up blood (very common)
      • In the form of blood without sputum
      • Caused by vascular rupture, bronchial hemorrhage, pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchial tuberculosis, etc.
      • Large amount of coughed up blood
        • Caused by vascular rupture and bronchial hemorrhage
        • May lead to immense bleeding
        • Rusty sputum (prune-juice sputum)
          • In the form of blood or blood pigments in reddish-brown sputum (similar to prune juice in appearance)
          • Contains bacteria, mucus and sloughed necrotic lung tissues
          • Caused by lobar pneumonia
          • Gelatinous blood sputum (currant-jelly sputum)
            • In the form of brick red jelly-like blood in thick, bloody, mucoid sputum
            • Characteristics of sputum is due to combination of endobronchial plug of blood, mucus, debris and bacteria
            • Caused by Klebsiella pneumonia
            • Pink frothy sputum
              • In the form of pink blood in frothy (air) sputum
              • Frothy appearance is due to mixing with secretions of alveoli
              • Cause by acute pulmonary edema or heart disease (resulting to acute left heart failure)

Causes of Hemoptysis

Many potential diseases can lead to hemoptysis as seen above. Some of the other causes of hemoptysis not mentioned above include:

  • Bronchiectasis
  • Tumors in the lungs
  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Anticoagulation medications
  • Use of cocaine
  • Trauma, such as gunshot wound

Tests for Hemoptysis

Many tests can be performed to determine the bleeding rate and if there poses danger to breathing. These tests will determine the cause for hemoptysis:

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Chest CT scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • Lung biopsy
  • Lung scan
  • Sputum culture and smear
  • Blood chemistry profile
  • Coagulation tests
  • And many more

Treatment for Hemoptysis

Treatment will always vary depending on the underlying cause of hemoptysis. Some of the most common treatment includes:

  • Antibiotics for tuberculosis and pneumonia
  • Chemotherapy for lung cancer
  • Steroids for inflammatory conditions
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Bronchial artery embolization
  • If intense and fatal, surgery.

No direct remedy can be given to treat hemoptysis. Although understanding hemoptysis can aid when taking first aid training, as knowledge on these matters can help recognize symptoms, especially when discussing airway obstruction.