Febrile seizure symptoms can range from mild — rolling of the eyes — to more severe shaking or tightening of the muscles.

A child having a febrile seizure may:

  • Have a fever higher than 100.4 F (38.0 C)
  • Lose consciousness
  • Shake or jerk the arms and legs on both sides of the body
  • Roll his or her eyes back in the head

Febrile seizures are classified as simple or complex:

  • Simple febrile seizures. These are the most common type of febrile seizure, and they can last from a few seconds to 15 minutes. Simple febrile seizures do not recur within a 24-hour period. These seizures begin as a generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure and don't involve staring or shaking of just one part of the body.
  • Complex febrile seizures. A complex febrile seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than once within 24 hours or is confined to one side of your child's body.

Febrile seizures most often occur as the body temperature quickly rises, usually within 24 hours of the onset of a fever, and can be the first sign that a child is ill.

When to see doctor

See your child's doctor as soon as possible if your child has his or her first-time febrile seizure, even if it lasts only a few seconds. If the seizure ends quickly, call your doctor as soon as it's over and ask when and where your child can be examined.

Call for an ambulance to take your child to the emergency room if the seizure lasts longer than 10 minutes or is accompanied by:

  • Vomiting
  • A stiff neck
  • Problems with breathing
  • Extreme sleepiness
Jan. 24, 2012