Febrile seizures are seizures that affect children and are usually triggered by high fever, often due to an infection. During a febrile seizure a child may rapidly shake, twitch, moan, roll their eyes, or lose consciousness. Febrile seizures most often occur in children between 6 months and 5 years of age. However, the highest risk period for a febrile seizure is between 12 months and 18 months of age. Children with a family history of febrile seizures are at an increased risk for these seizures. Fortunately, febrile seizures are typically harmless and do not cause any other health problems. They are usually seen as the brain’s response to a high fever. There are two forms of febrile seizures: simple and complex. Simple febrile seizures are more common and usually last between a few seconds to 15 minutes. Complex febrile seizures may last more than 15 minutes, happen more than once in the span of 24 hours, and occur on one side of the child’s body.
Doctors can diagnose febrile seizures by using a test called an electroencephalogram (EEG). This test checks the brain for unusual electrical activity often seen with a seizure. To find the cause of the febrile seizure, doctors may run blood tests, urine tests, or perform a spinal tap. A spinal tap is a procedure used to remove cerebrospinal fluid, fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury, by inserting a small needle in the lower back. Treatment typically depends on the root cause and severity of the seizure and can range from treating the infection (antibiotics) to treating the seizures (antiepileptic medication). Talk with your child’s doctor or specialist to decide which treatment options are best for your child. Support groups are also good resources for support and information.