What is fever seizures?

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Fever seizure in children: Overview

Your child had a fever seizure. Another name for fever seizure is febrile seizure. Most children who have a fever seizure have rectal temperatures higher than 102°F.

Watching your child have a seizure can be scary. The good news is that a fever seizure is usually not a sign of a serious problem.

See your child's doctor in 1 or 2 days for follow-up care.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Fever seizures

Fever seizures (febrile seizures) are uncontrolled muscle spasms and unresponsiveness in a child. They usually last 1 to 3 minutes and are seldom serious.

Fever seizures are not a form of epilepsy. A seizure is likely to be fever-related if:

  • There is one seizure in a 24-hour period.
  • The seizure lasted less than 15 minutes.
  • The seizure affected the entire body, not just one side of the body.
  • The child is age 6 months to 5 years old.
  • The child does not have nervous system (neurological) problems.
  • The child has had fever seizures before.

Caring for a child who has fever seizures

  • Protect your child from injury during a seizure.
    • Ease the child to the floor. Don't restrain the child.
    • Turn the child onto their side. This will help clear the mouth of any vomit or saliva. And it will help keep the tongue from blocking the air passage so the child can breathe. Keeping the head and chin forward (in the same position as when you sniff a flower) also will help keep the air passage open.
    • Loosen clothing.
    • Don't put anything in the child's mouth to prevent tongue-biting. It could cause injury.
    • Try to stay calm. This will help calm the child. Comfort the child with quiet, soothing talk.
    • Time the length of the seizure. Pay close attention to the child's behavior during the seizure so you can describe it to your child's doctor. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911.
  • Check your child for injuries after the seizure.
    • If the child is having trouble breathing, turn their head to the side and call 911.
    • Provide a safe area where the child can rest. And stay with the child until they are fully awake and alert.

If your child has had a fever seizure in the past and you have talked with your child's doctor about how to care for your child after a seizure, be sure to follow the doctor's instructions.

Fever seizure in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child's seizure lasts more than 3 minutes.
  • Your child is very sick or has trouble staying awake or being woken up.
  • Your child has another seizure during the same illness.
  • Your child has new symptoms, such as weakness or numbness in any part of the body.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's fever does not come down with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
  • Your child is not acting normally.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.