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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Febrile convulsions (Febrile seizures)

Febrile convulsions (Febrile seizures)

A febrile seizure is a convulsion in young children caused by a sudden spike in body temperature, often from an infection. As the body temperature controls of very small children are not fully developed, they are the ones who are prone to frequent fevers. Occurrence of fits as a result of high fever is a common phenomenon with children. These fits are known as febrile convulsions.

Febrile seizure also known as fever fit.
These fits or seizures occur in a child with high fever of over 102.2°F (39°C). These febrile convulsions generally occur at an early stage of other infections like viral infections, respiratory infections, etc where the fever rises rapidly.


  • 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 usually higher than 102 F (38.9 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.
  • Have trouble breathing.
  • Lose urine.
  • Vomiting.
  • Cry or moan.

Febrile seizures are classified as simple or complex:

  • Simple febrile seizures: These are the most common. They last from a few seconds to 10 minutes and stop on their own. After the seizure, your child may cry, act confused or be quite sleepy.
  • 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.

Causes of Febrile Convulsions:

A lot of children suffer from febrile convulsions at one point of their childhood or the other. This is caused by an electrical system in the brain which fails to cope with the rising temperature as it remains less matured at that time.

There are certain conditions that can trigger off febrile convulsions, or increases its chances. They are as follows:

  • High temperature and a rapid rise in temperature
  • Inherit from parents or genetically predisposed to it
  • If elder siblings have suffered from it
  • Frequent infections and illness
  • If first attack of febrile convulsion was accompanied by a relatively low body temperature, that is below 102.2°F
  • After receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. But this is very rare.

Treatment of Febrile Convulsions:

There is no such treatment for febrile convulsions since this is a natural occurrence with a lot of children. However, certain methods can be adopted as follows:

  • Try and stop the child from hurting himself, but do not hold him tightly.
  • Do not put anything in their mouth, not even water
  • Place them in a recovery position
  • Call the doctor
  • Cool the room to bring the temperature down.
  • Loosen their clothes.
  • Turn the child’s head sideways to prevent choking.
  • If the child has suffered from convulsions before, diazepam is given through rectum using a rectal tube.
  • After the attack, some doctors advice mild painkillers or paracetamol to bring down the temperature
  • Prompt medical treatment and hospitalization might be required for some children.

Certain measures can be taken to lower the risk of febrile convulsion attacks, like:

  • Keeping a close check on the child suffering from high temperature
  • Temperature lowering medicines can be given
  • Keeping medicines like diazepam in hand
  • Consult the doctor immediately, and hospitalize the child if necessary.