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Febrile Seizures Febrile Seizures
Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in conjunction with a sudden rise in body temperatur. Febrile seizures are fairly common occurring in 1... Febrile Seizures

by Kimberly Allen, RN

Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in conjunction with a sudden rise in body temperatur.  Febrile seizures are fairly common occurring in 1 out of every 25 children and they occur in both boys’ and girls.  Almost all febrile seizures occur in children between 6 month and 5 years, though it is rare for them to occur after 3 years of age.  Febrile seizures can also run in families.  For example, there are four children in my family and all four of us had febrile seizures.

Usually febrile seizures occur in resposne to a sudden spike in your child’s body temperature.  The seizures generally only occur on the first day of the fever in response to the sudden change.  Most of the time fevers that trigger a seizure are in response to either a bacterial or viral infection, however not always.  My youngest sister would have febrile seizures in response to sudden spikes in her body temperature that were as high as 106.8F.  She was hospitalized several times, not for the seizures, but for the high temperatures.  She would only have the seizure on the first day, but the fever would last for several  days.  And the Drs were never able to find a cause for the fever, she was always diagnosed with a high fever of unknown origin.

Then my son had high fevers, up to 104.8F but with hives and the Drs could not find a cause and he was diagnosed with high fever with hives of unknow origin.  These diagnosis’ of unknown origin were made only after extensive testing to determine a cause so always have your child examined by your Dr if he/she develops a febrile seizure because there are many conditions that can cause sudden temperature spikes leading to seizures including meningitis and encephalitis, it’s immportant to note that both of these conditions can cause seizures without a fever.
Researchers have also identified several genes associated with febrile seizures though how the genes affect febrile seizures continues to be studied.

There are two types of febrile seizures, simple and complex seizures. Simple febrile seizures are the most common and are considered less serious than the complex febrile seizures.  Simple febrile seizures last less than 15min, they generally involve the entire body and do not occur more than once in a 24 hour period.  Complex febrile seizures are less common and are considered the more serious of the two.  These seizures will last longer than 15 minutes and they usually occur repeatedly during the first 24 hours and/or affects only one side of your chuilds body.

If your child experiences a febrile seizure it’s important to contact your childs Dr immediately after the seizure.  If your child is vomiting, complaining of a stiffneck or is severely lethargic or
having difficulty breathing call 911 and take your child to the local emergency room. While your child is having a febrile seizure place him/her in a safe place where they can’t ffall or hit something and injure himself. Always place your chikld on their side to prevent them from choking and watch or any change in the color of your childs face and breathing problems.  Should your childs seizure last longer than 15 minutes or he/she turns blue call 911 immediately do not wait for the seizure to end.  It’s also important to understand the things you should not do
during a seizure.  First do not attempt to restrain or hold your child or attempt to put anything in his/her mouth, and do not put your child into a cool or luke warm bath to try to bring down the temperature.  I do realize that these things were common practice in the past but research has indicated they cause more harm than good.  Also you do not want to try to give any medications as it increases the potential for your child to choke.

Most febrile seizures are harmless and resove on their own, however they are frequently an indication that something else is going on that may or may not need to be treated.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at