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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 5 years old (most commonly, toddlers 12-18 months old), and usually happen on the first day of a fever above 100.4ºF (38ºC).

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:

  • make sure your child is in a safe place and cannot fall down or hit something hard
  • lay your child on his or her side to prevent choking
  • watch for signs of breathing difficulty, including bluish color in the face
  • try to keep track of how long the seizure lasts
  • 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 10 minutes
  • turns blue
  • vomits during the febrile seizure

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. It’s important to call your doctor for an evaluation after a febrile seizure.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014