Febrile Seizures: What You Need to Know
A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child – usually between ages nine months and five years – that is triggered by a fever.
“We don’t really know why that happens,” explains Diana Brinker MD, a pediatrician at Group Health. “Febrile seizures are the most common type of seizures occurring in children, and happen in about 2 percent to 5 percent of kids.”
Symptoms of a Febrile Seizure
A febrile seizure could be as mild as your child's eyes rolling or limbs stiffening, which can make them difficult to spot.
It usually stops by itself within a few seconds to 10 minutes (if the seizure lasts longer than two to five minutes, call 911), and is often followed by a short period of drowsiness or confusion.
Your child may also:
- Cry or moan.
- Have muscle tightening that lasts for several seconds, or longer.
- Fall, if standing.
- Pass urine.
- Vomit or bite the tongue.
- Not breathe, and may begin to turn blue.
- Begin to jerk rhythmically. (Your child will not respond to your voice.)
Febrile Seizures: What’s the Likeliness of Recurrence?
If your child has had a febrile seizure, Dr. Brinker says the recurrence rate is about 30 percent. She also says most kids will never have any other problems, and therefore, will not need to go on medications or have a full seizure workup. A full seizure workup includes:
In cases where your child has multiple febrile seizures, he or she typically grows out of them (around age five). “They usually go away, eventually, and it’s not a problem. It doesn’t cause any long-term harm to them,” Dr. Brinker explains. If febrile seizures do become chronic, your doctor would prescribe a medication to give them right when the seizure occurs. Only in rare cases would your child be prescribed a daily medication for febrile seizures.
“As long as your family knows what to look for and how to react when the seizure occurs, there’s not much else you can do to necessarily prevent them,” Dr. Brinker explains.
Last Updated: November 07, 2013