How to Deal With Convulsions

Anna panicked when she walked into her sitting room to find her son convulsing. He had not looked critically ill been when she left him to do some chores outside the house, although he had been running a fever.

She found him shaking with his eyes rolling backwards. Then he lost consciousness. She carried him to a nearby clinic calling out: “Oh Mukama Taata, nyamba omwana wange” (Dear God, please help me, my child).

The child received treatment at the clinic and is recovering. The health worker gave Anna tips on aiding a convulsing child and she says that had she known about these tips, she would not have panicked as she did.

Febrile seizures:

Febrile seizures, according to, are seizures which occur in children with fever. They can occur in children aged between six months and six years but are more common in children aged between 18 months and three years.

They are classified into simple and complex febrile seizures with simple seizures being symptomised by convulsions (shaking or twitching), eyes appearing to roll backwards and the body going stiff. Experts say that most simple seizures last no more than five minutes.

“The child may be sleepy for some minutes afterwards but within an hour or so the child will usually appear a lot better when their temperature has come down,” reads part of the information on the website.

Complex seizures on the other hand last more than 15 minutes, reoccur within 24 hours, and are not generalized they could occur in a leg such that only the leg is shaking.

Aiding a convulsing child:

How can you aid a convulsing child?

Dr Sabrina Kitaka, a paeditrician, says that such a child should be put in a recovery position. According to, the child should be placed on the floor on his or her side. Objects close to the child’s recovery position should be cleared away.

Kitaka says that if the child is wearing clothing that is tight around the neck, it should be removed. The fever should be cooled down by removing their clothes, if they are in a warm room, giving them a drink and Paracetamol, according to

Don’t cool the fever with a wet cloth as this is no longer accepted.

Are onions helpful?

Jacinta, a mother, says that whenever her son convulses, which she says is fairly often, she makes him sniff an onion and he recovers. Other mothers have reported similar positive results but Kitaka is skeptical.

“Onions aren’t helpful. A child may choke on them instead [if put inside the mouth],” Kitaka says.

Kitaka says the right treatment for convulsing children is an anti-covulsant, which can be gotten from a health centre. Some children may not need treatment but all need to be taken to a doctor.


Kitaka says that febrile seizures in children are best prevented through giving a child with fever some Paracetamol, to contain their temperature.

Source : The Observer


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