Seizures and Fever (cont.)
Seizures and Fever Symptoms
By definition, febrile seizures occur when the child has a fever. Most febrile seizures are generalized. In other words, the whole body may be involved.
During a generalized seizure, any or all of the following may be seen:
- Stiffening of the entire body
- Jerking of the arms and legs
- Complete lack of response to any stimuli
- Eyes deviated, staring, rolling back, moving back and forth
- Tightness of the jaws and mouth
- Urinary incontinence (wet their pants)
- Noisy breathing, labored, slower than normal (unusual for a child to stop breathing completely)
- Although it may seem like an eternity if you are witnessing a seizure, most of these episodes last only 1-5 minutes. Afterward, the child is typically drowsy but usually starts to become responsive within 15-30 minutes.
- Following a seizure, a child may remain somewhat “twitchy,” with intermittent small jerks of the arms or legs. It can be difficult to distinguish these movements from seizure activity, but the caregiver should be reassured if the child’s body tone has become relaxed, breathing is regular, and the child begins to show some signs of responding to stimulation (will respond if talked to, for example).
- Focal seizures are less common and, as the term implies, involve only a part of the body. Abnormal movements may be seen only in the face (eye blinking, lip smacking, other movements of the mouth) or one side of the body. Variable degrees of alteration in consciousness are seen in focal seizures. Some seizures begin as focal ones and then become generalized.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2015
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Thomas Rebbecchi, MD, FAAEM
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