Simple febrile seizures:
- Convulsions last between a few seconds to 15 minutes
- Seizures are followed by a period of confusion and sleepiness which slowly goes away
Complex febrile seizures:
- Last longer than 15 minutes
- Occur more than once within 24 hours
- Convulsions which affect only part the body
- A fever, usually above 102°F (38.9ºC)
- Convulsion (jerking or stiffening muscles)
- Abnormal eye movements
- Coarse breathing sounds during the convulsion
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Brief period of drowsiness or confusion following a seizure
- Unless the doctor has told you otherwise, call 911.
- Protect from physical injury. Place your child on the floor or bed away from any hard or sharp objects.
- Protect the airway. Do not place anything in the mouth during the convulsion. Turn the child’s head or body to the side. This will allow saliva or vomit to drain from the mouth.
- Watch the time. The length of the convulsions should be less than five minutes.
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Lumbar puncture —procedure to remove a sample of spinal fluid to look for meningitis or encephalitis
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- Antibiotics or antiviral medications
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to fight the fever
- A complex febrile seizure
- Problems in development before the febrile seizure
- A family history of a seizure disorder
American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org/
Epilepsy Foundation http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/
Caring for Kids http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
American Academy of Family Physicians. Febrile seizures: what every parent should know. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/febrile-seizures.html . Accessed July 20, 2012.
Febrile seizure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 11, 2012. Accessed July 20, 2012.
Bradley WG, Daroff RB. Neurology in Clinical Practice . Philadelphia, PA: Butterworth Heinemann; 2004.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) febrile seizures information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/febrile%5Fseizures/febrile%5Fseizures.htm . Accessed July 20, 2012.
Shellhaas, R, Camfield, C, Camfield, P. Febrile seizures. In: Gilman S, ed. MedLink Neurology . San Diego, CA: MedLink Corporation. MedLink website. Available at: http://www.medlink.com . Accessed May 12, 2008.
Strengell T, Uhari M, Tarkka R, et al. Antipyretic agents preventing recurrences of febrile seizures: randomized controlled trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med . 2009 Sep;163(9):799-804.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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