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:
Jan. 24, 2012
- A stiff neck
- Problems with breathing
- Extreme sleepiness
- Febrile seizures fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/febrile_seizures/detail_febrile_seizures.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- What do I do if my child has a febrile seizure? American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/publiced/BR_FebrileSeizures.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical practice guideline — Febrile seizures: Guideline for the neurodiagnostic evaluation of the child with a simple febrile seizure. Pediatrics. 2011;127:389.
- Febrile seizures. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/neurologic_disorders_in_children/febrile_seizures.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Bernard TJ, et al. Neurologic & muscular disorders. In: Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6585048. Accessed Nov. 13, 2011.
- Cendes F, et al. Vaccinations and febrile seizures. Epilepsia. 2011;52(suppl):23.
- Sullivan JE, et al. Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011;127:580.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 10, 2011.
- Nickels KC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 21, 2011.