Febrile seizures

A seizure is like an electric storm in the brain - brought on by a very high fever. A short seizure (less than fifteen minutes) should not damage the brain. Febrile seizures usually happen in four percent of children between the ages of six months and five years.


When your child has a seizure you may notice several things:

  • Your child's body becomes stiff.
  • Your child's arms and legs jerk.
  • Your child's eyes roll back.
  • Your child does not recognise you or cannot speak.
  • Your child wets itself.
  • Your child becomes sleepy afterwards.

Febrile seizures often re-occur - in fact, once a febrile seizure has occurred there is a fifty percent chance that a second one will occur. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you keep your child's temperature down.

How you can help

  • If your child's skin feels hot, take his or her temperature using a thermometer.
  • If the temperature is above 38°C, give him or her paracetamol or Ponstan every four hours.
  • If the temperature is very high (above 38.5°C), you may place a lukewarm or tepid (not cold) wet cloth on the child's forehead, armpits and thighs. If this causes your child to cry or become upset it is best to remove the cloth. Do not use rubbing alcohol.

What to do if your child has another seizure

  • Stay calm.
  • Turn your child on his or her side.
  • Stay with your child until the seizure stops.
  • Check the time that the seizure starts and stops.
  • Do not put anything in your child's mouth.
  • Loosen tight clothes.
  • Move hard objects away so that your child will not hurt itself.
  • Call the ambulance service if your child stops breathing or becomes blue, or when the seizure lasts for more than five minutes.

When your child wakes up and starts looking around, bring him or her to the trauma unit at the hospital nearest to you or call your General Practitioner (GP) so that the child can be evaluated.

For more information, please contact a Life Healthcare hospital nearest to you. For hospital contact details, click here.