Febrile Seizures (Seizures and Fever)
What Is the Relationship Between Seizures and Fever?
Febrile seizures, also known as convulsions, body spasms, or shaking, occur mainly in children and are caused by fever. (Febrile is derived from the Latin febris, meaning fever.) As with most types of seizures, the onset is dramatic, with little or no warning. In most instances, the seizure lasts only a few minutes and stops on its own.
Febrile seizures may occur because a child's developing brain is sensitive to the effects of fever. These seizures are most likely to occur with high body temperatures (higher than 102°F) but may also occur with milder fevers. The sudden rise in temperature seems to be more important than the degree of temperature. The seizure may occur with the initial onset of fever before a child’s caregiver is even aware the child is ill.
What Causes Febrile Seizures?
Febrile seizures are classified into 2 types:
Children who have experienced a complex febrile seizure may be at risk for these outcomes:
Most fevers associated with febrile seizures are due to the usual causes of fever in young children—namely, common viral and mild bacterial infections such as ear infections. Although perhaps only 1% of children with febrile seizures have a serious infection of the central nervous system such as meningitis, this possibility should always be carefully considered in a child who has had a febrile seizure.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2016
Kevin Kowaleski, MD
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Thomas Rebbecchi, MD, FAAEM
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