Further Reading

What is a febrile seizure?

by Katie M. Bell, RPA-C
A: Children, ages 6 months to 5 years, can experience a febrile seizure within the first few hours of the onset of a fever. The most common signs and symptoms seen in a child experiencing a febrile seizure include the body becoming stiff, twitching, rolling of the eyes, disrupted breathing, unresponsiveness, and possibly some skin color darkening. The seizure will usually last no longer than 1 minute, but, even though it is uncommon, up to 15 minutes. After the seizure, the child returns to his/her normal self. 
If you believe your child is having a febrile seizure, act immediately by:
  • Placing the child on the floor or bed, keeping all sharp objects away from the area. 
  • Turning the child’s head to one side, preventing them from choking on saliva or vomit. 
  • Keeping the child’s mouth free from all objects. He/she will not swallow their tongue. 
  • Calling the child’s provider. 
  • Calling 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes. 
Febrile seizures seem to run in families. Children under 1 year of age at the first time of a febrile seizure are 50% more likely to experience another febrile seizure, while children over 1 year at the time of a first febrile seizure are only 30% likely to experience another febrile seizure.
Febrile seizures, although very scary for parents and family, are harmless to the child. The child does not experience any brain damage, paralysis, nervous system complications, intellectual disability, or death. 
It is important to let the child’s provider know immediately the seizure took place to determine the cause of the fever and the correct course of treatment to keep the child’s temperature in normal range. Usually, medications specifically to prevent seizures are not given to children who experience their first febrile seizure. However, if a child continues to have seizures or the length of the seizure is longer than 5 minutes, the provider’s recommendation may be different.