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[L. convellere, to tear loose]
An occurrence or series of occurrences of involuntary muscular contractions and relaxations.
It is important for the person who observes the convulsion to record on the chart the following: time of onset, duration, whether the convulsion started in a certain area of the body or became generalized from the start, type of contractions, whether the patient became incontinent, and whether the convulsion caused the patient to be injured or strike the head. This information, in addition to its medicolegal importance, is valuable in diagnosis and in caring for the patient.
Common causes are epilepsy, eclampsia, meningitis, heat cramps, brain lesions, tetanus, uremia, hypoxemia, hypotension, and many poisonings. In children, the cause is often fever.
Febrile convulsions in children are usually controlled by suppressing fever with acetaminophen. In adults a specific diagnosis should be made. Diagnostic testing may include assessments of serum chemistries, oxygenation, alcohol levels, brain scanning, or lumbar puncture. The patient should be prevented from self-injury and from the aspiration of oral or gastrointestinal contents. If fever is present, antipyretic drugs may be helpful. Sedatives or anesthesia may be ordered by the physician. Aftercare includes rest in bed.
SEE: febrile convulsion