What are convulsions?

Convulsions (fits) present with a sudden onset of abnormal movements and an altered level of consciousness due to abnormal brain activity. Convulsions have many different causes and may present in a wide variety of ways. Important causes are:

  • Epilepsy
  • High fever
  • Meningitis
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Cerebral cysticercosis (brain cysts caused by the pig tapeworm)

All children with convulsions must be urgently transferred to hospital for investigation, to establish the cause, and start correct management.

Before moving a child with convulsions, make sure the airway is open and give oxygen. Always measure the blood glucose concentration with a reagent strip and correct any hypoglycaemia. Cool the child if the temperature is very high.

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