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Febrile Seizures

What is a Febrile Seizure?

When your child has a seizure during an illness with a fever, it is called a febrile seizure. While it may seem scary, these types of seizures are harmless and not indicative of a larger issue. They usually occur in children 6 months to 6 years in age. About 1 in 25 children experience a febrile seizure, and 40 percent of those will have a recurrence.

Causes of Febrile Seizures

This type of seizure occurs when a child has a fever over 101 F, although it can also occur with low-grade fevers and they can even occur a few hours before your child reaches a fever. They occur because a child’s brain is more sensitive to fever than an adult brain. A febrile seizure usually occurs within the first 24 hours of fever onset and may even be the first symptom that a child is sick with a cold, flu, or ear infection.

Symptoms of Febrile Seizures

Usually, a child having a febrile seizure shakes all over and may lose consciousness. Sometimes, the child may get stiff and their eyes may roll. A simple febrile seizure is a single seizure that a few seconds up to 15 minutes. A complex febrile seizure may last longer than 15 minutes, occur more than once in a day, or only affects one side of the child’s body. A child may be very sleepy following a febrile seizure.

Diagnosis of a Febrile Seizure

You should schedule a visit to your pediatrician if your child has experienced what you suspect to be a febrile seizure. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and take a medical history. Other tests, including taking blood and urine samples, may be done to pinpoint the cause of the seizure. Your doctor will also look for signs of meningitis to make sure that is not what triggered the seizure.

Treatment for Febrile Seizures

Remain calm if your child starts convulsing. Try to note the time. Lay your child on their side on a flat surface where there is no risk of falling. Never place anything in a child’s mouth when they are having a seizure. Call 911 or head to the emergency room if the seizure lasts more than five minutes or if the child shows symptoms of stiff neck, extreme lethargy, or abundant vomiting as those are signs of meningitis, a serious condition.

Giving fever-reducing acetaminophen at the onset of a fever may help prevent a febrile seizure, but research is mixed on the topic.

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What you can expect at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences

UTHealth Houston Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. You will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

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At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.