What Is a Febrile Seizure?
A febrile seizure is a seizure that occurs in a child with a fever or elevated temperature. Each year in the United States, somewhere between 2 to 4% of the children will have a febrile seizure.
Febrile seizures are often isolated, one-time events. However, approximately a third of children have recurrent episodes of febrile seizures. Typically, recurrent episodes occur during the first few years of life. Once a child is beyond three to six years of age, it becomes far less likely to have a recurrent febrile seizure.
What Causes a Febrile Seizure?
Oftentimes, the actual trigger for a seizure is the fever itself. As a child’s temperature goes up, the chance of a febrile seizure increases. The underlying illness causing the fever may also be a contributing cause.
What Does a Febrile Seizure Look Like?
Febrile seizures are typically the convulsive type. When experiencing a febrile seizure, the child may stiffen up at first and then have regular, repetitive, jerking movements. Their breathing often changes, resulting in their face turning a blue-ish color.
How to Manage a Febrile Seizure?
If you observe a child experiencing a febrile seizure, it's important to follow these steps:
- Remain calm and do not panic.
- Loosen clothing on the child, especially around the neck.
- Place the child on their side.
- Do not force open the mouth or put anything in the mouth.
- Observe type and duration of seizure.
If a child has a seizure with a fever, seek an assessment from a pediatric neurology provider. It’s important that the child is monitored to ensure they don’t have an infection in their brain or some other illness.
How Are Febrile Seizures Treated?
Most of the time, febrile seizures do not require anti-seizure medication for ongoing treatment.
If there is any reason to suspect that they may be at risk for prolonged febrile seizures, then your care team may recommend a medication to stop any prolonged seizures.
If your child has had a febrile seizure, there is no need to limit their activities.
If you do see any future signs of an illness, it’s important to check your child’s temperature and, if it’s elevated, give them something to bring down the temperature, like acetaminophen, and to try and prevent a febrile seizure.