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First Aid: Febrile Seizures

First Aid

Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in some children with fevers. They affect kids 6 months to 6 years old (most commonly, toddlers 12-18 months old), and usually happen on the first day of a fever above 100.4°F (38°C).

Although they can be frightening, febrile seizures usually stop on their own after a few minutes and don't cause any other health problems.

Signs and Symptoms

During a febrile seizure, your child may:

  • have jerking movements
  • convulse, shake, or twitch
  • moan
  • become unconscious

What to Do

If you think your child is having a seizure due to fever, try to stay calm and:

  1. gently place your child on the floor or the ground
  2. remove any nearby objects
  3. lay your child on his or her side to prevent choking
  4. loosen any clothing around the head and neck
  5. watch for signs of breathing problems, including bluish color in the face
  6. try to keep track of how long the seizure lasts
  7. call your doctor for an evaluation when the seizure is over

Seek Emergency Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • has a febrile seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes
  • the seizure involves only certain parts of the body instead of the whole body
  • has trouble breathing or turns blue
  • isn't responding normally
  • has another seizure within 24 hours

Think Prevention!

No one knows why febrile seizures happen, so they usually can't be prevented. If your child is uncomfortable due to the fever, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your child's doctor. It's important to call your doctor to be seen after a febrile seizure.

Date reviewed: June 2016