As the seasons change, young children have more frequent infections, often accompanied by fever. When a child’s temperature rises rapidly, it is not uncommon for her to experience a brief seizure or convulsion. Here are some things to look for and what to do if your child experiences such an event.

Symptoms

Most febrile seizures occur in children less than five years of age and are characterized by the following.

  • Arms and legs jerking with both sides of the body involved
  • Head may be thrown backwards or bob forward
  • Eyes may roll backwards
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Temperature usually in excess of 102 degrees F

Duration

Febrile seizures are usually very short, often stopping in less than 15 seconds. On rare occasions, they can last as long as five minutes.

What to do

  • Don’t panic. Although frightening, febrile seizures are rarely harmful and do not indicate epilepsy.
  • Keep your child comfortable and be as reassuring as possible.
  • Make sure that the surroundings are free from objects that could be harmful if struck.
  • After the seizure, call your health care provider for advice and follow instructions accordingly.

Watch for

  • If a seizure is longer than five minutes, consult your doctor.
  • If there is a stiffening of the neck, vomiting, or any kind of unusual rash, call 911 and seek immediate medical help.

Remember that it is very unusual for a febrile seizure to have any ill effects on your child’s health. However, always consult your child’s doctor for specific advice and for follow up management.