Diagnosis

Identifying the cause of your child's fever is the first step after a febrile seizure. 

Simple febrile seizures

To determine the cause of infection, your doctor may recommend:

  • A blood test
  • A urine test
  • A spinal tap (lumbar puncture), to find out if your child has a central nervous system infection, such as meningitis

Complex febrile seizures

For complex febrile seizures, your doctor also may recommend an electroencephalogram (EEG), a test that measures brain activity.

If the seizure involved just one side of the child's body, your doctor may also recommend an MRI to check your child's brain.

Treatment

Most febrile seizures stop on their own within a couple of minutes. If your child has a febrile seizure that lasts more than 10 minutes — or if your child has repeated seizures — call for emergency medical attention.

More-serious episodes

If the seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes, a doctor may order medication to stop the seizure.

If the seizure is prolonged or accompanied by a serious infection or if the source of the infection can't be determined, then your doctor may want your child to stay in the hospital for further observation. But a hospital stay isn't usually necessary for simple febrile seizures.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If your child has a febrile seizure, stay calm and follow these steps:

  • Place your child on his or her side on a surface where he or she won't fall.
  • Stay close to watch and comfort your child.
  • Remove hard or sharp objects near your child.
  • Loosen tight or restrictive clothing.
  • Don't restrain your child or interfere with your child's movements.
  • Don't put anything in your child's mouth.
  • Time the seizure.

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your child's family doctor or pediatrician. You may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system (neurologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Write down everything you remember about your child's seizure, including signs or symptoms that occurred before the seizure, such as a fever.
  • List medications, vitamins and supplements your child takes.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For febrile seizures, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my child's seizure?
  • What tests does my child need? Do these tests require special preparation?
  • Is this likely to happen again?
  • Does my child need treatment?
  • Will giving my child fever-reducing medications during an illness help prevent febrile seizures?
  • What should I do the next time my child has a fever?
  • What can I do to help my child during a febrile seizure?
  • My child has another health condition. How can we manage them together?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can take? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions, as well.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • Did your child have a fever or illness before having this seizure?
  • Can you describe your child's seizure? What were the signs and symptoms? How long did the seizure last?
  • Has this happened before?
  • Does anyone in your family have a history of febrile seizures or seizure disorders?
  • Has your child been exposed to illnesses?
  • Does your child have a history of head trauma or a neurological disease?

What you can do in the meantime

If your child has another febrile seizure:

  • Don't restrain your child, but do place him or her on a safe surface, such as the floor.
  • Place your child on his or her side, keeping the face to the side and the lower arm extended under the head, to prevent your child from inhaling vomit if vomiting occurs.
  • If your child had anything in his or her mouth when the seizure began, remove it to prevent choking. Don't put anything in your child's mouth during a seizure.
  • Seek emergency care for a seizure that lasts longer than 10 minutes.
June 03, 2017
References
  1. 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. 3, 2014.
  2. Millichap JG, et al. Clinical features and evaluation of febrile seizures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
  3. Millichap JG, et al. Treatment and prognosis of febrile seizures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
  4. Chung S. Febrile seizures. Korean Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;57:384.
  5. Febrile seizures: Clinical practice guideline for the long-term management of the child with simple febrile seizures. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/121/6/1281.full.html. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.