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What To Do When You Think Your Child Is Having A Seizure

How Will I Know If My Child Is Having a Seizure?

Nearly 5% of all children have a seizure at some point. Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. In some cases, the child might just stare or be unresponsive. Other cases will present with more typical symptoms, including muscle spasms, body stiffening, and eye movement. While a seizure looks scary, they usually resolve on their own within a few minutes.

Should You Call 911?

Try to remain calm. Place your child on their side on the ground to avoid choking and falls. Do not put anything, including your fingers, in their mouth. Do not try to restrain them to stop the spasms. Try to check the time so you can relay the information to medical providers. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, call 911. If your child seems to be having difficulty breathing, turns blueish, or remains unconscious, call 911.

Seizures aren’t typically considered medical emergencies, but the first time it happens to your child, it can feel overwhelming. Having emergency responders on hand to offer treatment and advice can be beneficial. If you decide not to call 911, you can drive your child to the hospital or emergency clinic to be evaluated.

Be sure you can drive safely with your child comfortable and observed in the back seat. Patients can sometimes vomit following seizures, and that could cause an issue if the child is unattended. It is normal for a child to be extremely tired and confused for up to 30 minutes following a seizure. This is called the postictal state.

Children may also experience headache and nausea during this time.

Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician and neurologist as soon as possible.

Why Did My Child Have a Seizure?

A seizure is an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain. It is one of the most common nervous system disorders. It can be caused by infection, high fever, traumatic injury, or low blood sugar. In rare cases, it could be caused by a tumor. Often, the cause cannot be determined. If a child has two or more seizures with undetermined causes, the child will likely be diagnosed as having epilepsy.

A neurologist will conduct several tests, including an EEG and MRI, to determine whether a structural issue in the brain caused the seizure. Medication or even surgery may be prescribed to prevent future seizures. After a seizure, a child should be very closely monitored near water and should wear a helmet while riding bikes, scooters, or horses. Dehydration, stress, lack of sleep, and certain medications may trigger seizures.

What Will Treatment Entail?

There likely won’t be any treatment after a first seizure. Treatment usually begins after a second seizure. At that point, your neurologist will likely prescribe one of several medications available to treat epilepsy. It can be complex to find the right fit or the right combination for each patient, but your doctor will keep trying until your child becomes seizure free with the fewest side effects. If seizures persist, diet therapy, nerve stimulation, and surgery may be recommended to stop the brain activity causing the seizures.

Will My Child Have Another Seizure?

Most children who have seizures never have a second seizure. About one-third of patients of all ages who have a first unprovoked seizure, experience a second one and it’s usually within six months. More than 70 percent of patients who have two seizures go on to have more. Patients can receive top-notch care at UTHealth Neurosciences.


UTHealth Neurosciences is a large, comprehensive academic and research-based program that provides the full continuum of neuroscience care. Our group consists of over 150 providers who are committed to quality outcomes and to each patient’s experience. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 500-8846.