A seizure is like a short-circuit in the brain. Information in nerves in the brain gets mixed up. There are many signs of a seizure. Here are some of them:

  • The neck muscles or all the body muscles get stiff.
  • The arms or legs jerk around.
  • The eyes roll up and back in the head.
  • The child stares into space.
  • The child blacks out.
  • The child wets or soils themself.
  • The child drools.

There are many kinds of seizures. The two main kinds are the grand mal and the petit mal.

  • The grand mal seizure is big. It lasts 2 to 5 minutes. It is also called a “tonic-clonic” seizure. A convulsion happens with this kind.
  • A petit mal seizure can be just a minute or two of “spacing out.” It is also called an “absence seizure” because a convulsion does not happen with this kind.

Fever fits are seizures that can come with a high fever. In fact, high fevers cause most seizures in children 6 months to 4 years old. A fever of 102oF or more can bring on a fever fit. Most children who have seizures have only one seizure. Normal, healthy children can get seizures, too. This happens when the body’s own thermomstat isn’t working just right yet.

Sicknesses that make a child’s temperature go up fast can bring on seizures. Spiking fevers seem to confuse the brain. Here are some other causes of seizures:

  • Epilepsy
  • Poisons
  • Infection
  • Drugs
  • Reye’s Syndrome
  • Snakebites
  • Some vaccinations
  • Holding the breath too long

Most seizures last from 1 to 5 minutes. Short seizures don’t cause problems unless the child stops breathing and turns blue. But a seizure that lasts for half an hour can be a sign of a big problem. Let your childs doctor know if your child has any kind of seizure.

How to Avoid Fever Fits

Try to bring your child’s fever down fast:

  • Dress your child in loose clothes to keep them cool.
  • Ask your doctor about fever-lowering suppositories.
  • Rinse your child with lukewarm water.
  • Give your child acetaminophen if the fever gets above 103oF.

    (Note: Do not give aspirin to anyone under 19 years old unless your doctor tells you to. Aspirin and other medicines that have salicylates have been linked to Reye’s Syndrome, a condition that can kill.)

  • Keep trying to bring the fever down until it is 101oF or less.

Questions to Ask

Note: If your child has stopped breathing, call 911 or your local rescue squad. Then you may need to do one or more of these things:

  • Rescue breathing
  • CPR (if there is no breathing and the heart has stopped)
  • The Heimlich maneuver (if your child is choking and can’t breathe)

Take a class in emergency first aid for children to learn when and how to do each of these things.

Has the child stopped breathing?Yes: Seek Care
Is the seizure lasting more than 4 or 5 minutes?Yes: Seek Care
Is your child having a seizure when he or she does not have a fever?Yes:See Doctor
Is this your child’s first seizure?Yes:See Doctor
Is your child younger than 6 months or older than 4 years?Yes:See Doctor

Self-Care Tips

Don’t panic! A fever fit will stop by itself in a few minutes. The two things you can do are:

  • Try to keep your child from getting hurt during the seizure.
  • Lower his or her fever.

Do this during the seizure:

  • Protect your child from falling and hitting their head. (Watch out for tables and sharp things.)
  • Make sure your child can breathe:
    • Roll the child on their side so spit can drain from the mouth.
    • Clear out your child’s mouth if he or she threw up.
    • Gently pull on their jaw and bend their neck back. (This opens up the throat.)

  • Don’t put anything in your child’s mouth. Children hardly ever bite their tongues during a fever fit.
  • Don’t give your child any medicine, food, or drink by mouth.

Do this after the seizure:

  • If the seizure was from a fever, start lowering the fever. Sponge your child’s body with lukewarm water. Don’t use rubbing alcohol. Don’t put the child in a bathtub. Don’t use an ice pack. It drops the temperature too fast.
  • Your child will probably be sleepy after the seizure. He or she may not remember any-thing. This is OK.
  • Dress the child in light, loose clothes. Put him or her to sleep in a cool room.
  • Let your child’s doctor know about the seizure.

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Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021