Febrile (Fever) Seizures In Children
When a child has a seizure during a high fever, it’s called a febrile (fever) seizure. When a febrile seizure does happen, it most often occurs in babies and children ages 6 months to 5 years. As scary as the experience can be for a parent and child, febrile seizures are not serious, and while they are more likely to recur in a child who has had one, they will completely stop by about age 5 most of the time. In the vast majority of cases, no lasting damage is done by these seizures.
Symptoms of a febrile seizure
Febrile seizures are accompanied by a fever of at least 101°F. Signs of a seizure often include uncontrollable shaking of the arms and legs, although the shaking may be confined to one side of the body, and sometimes a febrile seizure will result in stiffness or twitching. They will also lose consciousness for the duration of the seizure.
What should you do if your child is having a febrile seizure?
During a seizure, you should place your child gently on their side on a flat surface. Seizure precautions also include ensuring they have nothing in their mouth to prevent choking. The first time your child has a seizure, they should be brought in to a doctor to verify the cause of the fever. This is to ensure there is no underlying serious disease such as meningitis. Once a child has had one febrile seizure, they have a 40% chance of having another.
If your child has a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes, if they are taking a long time to recover after a seizure less than 5 minutes, if the seizure is accompanied by vomiting or a stiff neck, or if they are younger than 6 months, get immediate medical attention.
Treatment and prevention of febrile seizures
Anti-seizure medication is available, but for most kids who have had febrile seizures, the risks of this medicine outweigh the benefits. Using fever-reducing medication when your child’s temperature begins to rise, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, is often recommended, but this is more for your child’s comfort, as there is no proof that taking these medications will eliminate the risk of febrile seizure.
Children who experience febrile seizures are not at any higher risk of developing epilepsy, unless those seizures are prolonged (over 15 minutes long).
If you’re in the LA area and suspect your child has had a febrile (fever) seizure, you can bring them in to our facilities at MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care, where we can evaluate and assess your child.