Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Convulsions with Fever - Brief Version
What are convulsions?
Convulsions are also called seizures. They are sudden,
uncontrolled jerks of the muscles. They can be caused by a
high fever. They are the most common type of convulsion and
are harmless. They most often occur when the fever is about
104ƒF (40ƒC). A fever can be caused by an infection in any
part of the body.
Each seizure lasts 1 to 10 minutes without any treatment.
For most of the children, a seizure from a fever will only
happen once in their life. Some have one to three more
seizures over the next few years. These type of seizures
usually stop by age 5 or 6 years.
What should I do when my child has a convulsion?
- Protect your child's airway. Place your child on the
side or stomach to help drain saliva. If the child
throws up, help clear the mouth. Use a suction bulb if
available. If your child's breathing becomes noisy, pull
the jaw and chin forward. Don't try to force anything
into your child's mouth.
- Reduce the fever. Bringing your child's fever down as
quickly as possible will shorten the seizure. Remove
your child's clothing and put cold washcloths on the face
and neck. Sponge the rest of the body with cool water.
When the seizure is over and your child is awake, give
the usual dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen
How can I take care of my child?
- Control the fever. The seizures usually occur during the
first day of an illness. Try to control the fever by
giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the first sign of
any fever. Continue giving the medicine for the first 48
hours of the illness. Awaken your child once during the
night to give medicine.
- Use light covers. Don't cover your child with more than
one blanket. Bundling during sleep can push the
temperature up 1 or 2 degrees.
- Give fluids. Make sure your child drinks plenty of
Call your child's doctor right away if:
- Your child has a seizure.
- Your child's neck becomes stiff.
- Your child becomes confused or difficult to awaken.
- Your child starts to act very sick.