Seizures With Fever
Febrile convulsions are seizures triggered by high fevers. Each seizure usually lasts 1 to 10 minutes without any treatment. This is the most common type of seizure, but it occurs in only 4 percent of all children. Most occur between 6 months and 5 years of age. The average temperature at the time of the seizure is 104 degrees, although some occur at lower levels. The fever itself can be caused by an infection in any part of the body, including a cold or ear infection.
Parents worry about recurrences: 60 percent have none and 40 percent have 1 to 3 in a lifetime. Simple febrile seizures are harmless. They never lead to mental retardation, learning disabilities, epilepsy, or brain damage.
If your child has febrile seizures, here's what you can do if one occurs:
- First: Protect your child's airway. If breathing becomes noisy or the lips become bluish, bring the jaw forward by pulling from behind the corner of the jaw bone on each side. If he vomits, place him on his side or face-down to help drain secretions. If available, use a suction bulb to help clear the mouth.
- Second: Don't try to force anything into your child's mouth. This is unnecessary and can cut the mouth, injure a tooth, cause vomiting, or result in a serious bite of your finger. Also, bites of the tongue are rare and harmless.
- Third: Reducing the fever during the seizure may shorten the seizure. Remove most clothing and apply cold washcloths to the forehead and neck.
- Fourth: Reduce the fever after the seizure is over and your child is fully awake. First, take the temperature so we know your child's seizure threshold. Then give acetaminophen or ibuprofen orally as soon as possible. If the fever is over 104 degrees, also sponge your child with lukewarm water.
Finally: Call your child's healthcare provider immediately for further instructions
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 11/1/2003
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.