Febrile seizures are convulsions that are brought on by having an elevated temperature.  Most common in fevers that are 102 degrees fahrenheit or higher that are caused from a viral infection.  Most common viral infections that can lead to a febrile seizure are chicken pox, COVID, ear infection, encephalitis, influenza, malaria, meningitis, stomach flu, strep throat, tonsillitis, or an upper respiratory infection. 

Febrile seizures happen in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.  It is most common in children that are between the ages of 12-18 months old.  Febrile seizures can happen to even the healthiest of children.  They usually happen without any warning so they are hard to prevent.  

Children who have had a febrile seizure before are at a higher risk of having another one in their life.  Most children grow out of febrile seizures around the age of 5.  Family history of febrile seizures raises the risk.  Febrile seizures are not considered a seizure disorder.  They can be very scary but they do not usually have any long term effect on your child.  


Types  & Symptoms Of Febrile Seizures

Simple febrile seizures are the most common.  They are short lived and over in a few minutes.  In some cases they can last up to 15 minutes, but this is not common.  Simple febrile seizures also do not recur in a 24 hour period.  They are just one seizure and then your child is usually done.  They can sometimes be the first side effect of a high fever. 

With a febrile seizure your child may convulse, shake, twitch, roll the eyes, moan, become unconscious, vomit, urinate, have changes in breathing, or have changes in skin color.  In simple febrile seizures the seizure affects both sides of the child’s body.  Simple febrile seizures usually only last a few minutes, and stop on their own without any further treatment needed.

Complex febrile seizures are less common and usually need treatment.  Complex febrile seizures last longer than 15 minutes.  They occur more than once within a 24 hour period.  They are confined to one part, or side of the child’s body.  Complex febrile seizures suggest an increased risk of seizure disorders later in the child’s life.  


What to do if your child has a febrile seizure?

It is important that if your child has a febrile seizure to try to remain calm.  Place them on the floor or bed away from sharp objects that could hurt them.  Turn their head to the side to help any excess saliva or vomit to come out.  Try to keep track of how long the seizure lasted for.  Loosen any clothing around their head or neck.  Watch for signs of breathing problems or changes in skin color such as blue lips. 

During the seizure do not put anything in their mouths, they will not swallow their tongues.  Do not try to hold or restrain them.  Do not give them any fever reducing medicine and do not put your child into cool or lukewarm water to try to cool them down. 

After the seizure make sure you call your doctor.  If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911 immediately.  


When is a febrile seizure a medical emergency?

Any child who has their first febrile seizure needs to get examined by their doctor afterwards. 

A febrile seizure can turn into a medical emergency.  If any of the following happens during a febrile seizure you will want to contact a medical emergency right away. 

If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, if only some parts of the body are convulsing, if your child is having trouble breathing or turning blue, if your child is not responding normally, if your child has another seizure within 24 hours, if your child had to take anti-seizure medication to stop the seizure. 

If your child is behind on their vaccinations they are at a higher risk for meningitis after having a febrile seizure.  Symptoms of meningitis are stiff neck, lot of vomiting, sensitivity to light, and in infants a bulging spot on their head.  



Febrile seizures can occur after your child has a vaccination.  They are not caused by the vaccine itself, but the fever that is brought on from your child getting a vaccine.  Febrile seizures don’t usually need any additional treatment.  They don’t bring on any long term side effects either. 

With a complex febrile seizure your child may have a greater risk of having a seizure disorder later in life. 

Febrile seizures can be extremely scary, but they are very common and usually hold no threat to your child after they are over.    




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