First Aid: Febrile Seizures

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First Aid

Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in some children with fevers. They affect kids 6 months to 5 years old (most commonly, toddlers 12-18 months old), and usually happen on the first day of a fever above 100.4ºF (38ºC).

Although they can be frightening, febrile seizures usually stop on their own after a few minutes and don't cause any other health problems.

Signs and Symptoms

During a febrile seizure, your child may:

  • have jerking movements
  • convulse, shake, or twitch
  • moan
  • become unconscious

What to Do

If you think your child is having a seizure due to fever, try to stay calm and:

  • make sure your child is in a safe place and cannot fall down or hit something hard
  • lay your child on his or her side to prevent choking
  • watch for signs of breathing difficulty, including bluish color in the face
  • try to keep track of how long the seizure lasts
  • call your doctor for an evaluation when the seizure is over

Seek Emergency Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • has a febrile seizure that lasts more than 10 minutes
  • turns blue
  • vomits during the febrile seizure

Think Prevention!

No one knows why febrile seizures happen, so they usually can't be prevented. If your child is uncomfortable due to the fever, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed. It's important to call your doctor for an evaluation after a febrile seizure.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationAAP Pediatric Referral Department Use this website to find a pediatrician in your area or to find general health information for parents from birth through age 21.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.


Related Articles

First Aid: Fever Fevers are usually not cause for alarm - they're the body's way of fighting infection. Here's what to do if your child has a fever.
Fever and Taking Your Child's Temperature Although it can be frightening when your child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing - it's often the body's way of fighting infections.
Febrile Seizures Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, they usually stop on their own and don't cause any other health problems.
Seizures Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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