DEAR DR. DONOHUE: A week ago, my 2-year-old grandson suffered a febrile seizure, which scared the living daylights out of me and my wife. His eyes rolled back, and he became unconscious. After a minute or two, he awoke. Can you give us some information on febrile seizures? He had a temperature of 101 F and started convulsing before he passed out. What can be done for this? Is it permanent? — T.P.

ANSWER: Seizures scare everyone who witnesses them. Febrile seizures — seizures that are triggered by a rise in temperature — are particularly frightening because they happen to young children, and no one is prepared for the experience. They’re rare before 9 months of age, and they end after 5 years. Their peak occurs between 14 and 18 months. Around 4 percent of children suffer one.

A temperature that rapidly rises to 102.2 F (39 C) is the usual provoking factor. The child’s arms and leg flail about, and the child is out of it during the event. It lasts from seconds to 15 minutes and is followed by a period of drowsiness. Nothing special need be done during the seizure other than making sure the child is not going to hit anything. The baby should be turned on his or her side. A seizure lasting longer than 10 minutes ought to prompt a 911 call, and the baby’s doctor needs to be informed of it in any case.

Febrile seizures don’t cause permanent brain damage. They can recur. Not a whole lot can be done to prevent them. Lowering an infant’s temperature with Tylenol might help. Oral diazepam in liquid form is another way to prevent an oncoming seizure, but the parents should confer with the baby’s doctor before attempting this preventive treatment.

On the doctor’s part, the most important aspect of febrile seizures is making sure the infant doesn’t have meningitis or a brain infection (encephalitis). In both cases, the temperature remains elevated and the baby appears quite sick. If the doctor suspects either condition, a lumbar puncture will be done to examine the spinal fluid for signs of infection.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My brother was diagnosed with scoliosis. Is there any exercise or diet that will help? — N.B.

ANSWER: Scoliosis is a spine that curves to the right or the left. Most cases occur in childhood. It can happen in adults, too, but the majority of adult scoliosis is scoliosis that’s been there since childhood days. Causes of scoliosis that begins in adulthood include things like osteoporosis, disk degeneration or fractures of the backbones.

Diet does nothing for scoliosis. Exercise can alleviate back pain if your brother suffers from it. The exercise is best prescribed by an orthopedic surgeon or a physical-therapy doctor. Side stroke and backstroke swimming are frequently suggested exercises.

Depending on how severe scoliosis is, a brace or even surgery is considered in young people. Surgery is also possible for adults. The greater the degree of curvature and the angle created by scoliosis, the greater that likelihood that surgery is a consideration.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 13-year-old granddaughter was discovered to have only one kidney but two uteruses. How does this affect her future? — C.G.

ANSWER: Nature is bountiful in providing us with two kidneys. We can get by well with one. In fact, we do well with even part of one.

A double uterus might dispose a woman to having a miscarriage, but most women with two uteruses can have a normal pregnancy. Much depends on the presence of other abnormalities.

I realize this is a superficial answer to your question, but I would have to know more about your granddaughter’s case in order to provide specific information.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.