Febrile seizures are seizures that occur from a high fever. These are very common in young children up to the age of 5 years.
Children who have 1 episode of a febrile seizure have up to 70% chance of another febrile seizure within 2 years. Febrile seizures can occur in 5% of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Viral infections are the most common cause of fevers that will lead to seizure activity. This is especially true with human herpes virus 6 which generally occurs in very young children.
There is no special temperature value that is linked with causing febrile seizures. However, the higher the temperature goes the more likely seizure can develop. One theory is that high temperatures causes muscles to spasm and certain chain reactions will developed, resulting in a fever.
Most children who have a febrile seizure will improve rapidly within one hour. A lumbar puncture can be performed, however is not recommended in all cases.
No one is quite sure why febrile seizures occur in certain children and not others. The good news is that febrile seizures are not linked with a lifelong history of epilepsy.
Certain medications can be used to help break the seizure activity and reduce fever.
It is important to bring your child’s temperature down quickly using Tylenol or Motrin. Other options include wearing loose clothing, a lukewarm bath, and cold compresses to the forehead and wrists.
If you have concerns about febrile seizures, immediately take your child to the nearest emergency department. Proper testing is necessary to identify the causes of the fever and appropriate treatment.
- Muhammad Emran, MD