Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the
brain. Symptoms may vary depending on the part of the brain that is
involved, but seizures often cause unusual sensations,
uncontrollable muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.
Some seizures may be the result of a medical problem. Low blood
sugar, infection, a
, accidental poisoning, or drug overdose can cause a seizure. A
seizure may also be due to a brain tumor or other health problem
affecting the brain. In addition, anything that results in a sudden
lack of oxygen to the brain can cause a seizure. In some cases, the
cause of the seizure is never discovered.
When seizures recur, it may indicate the chronic condition known
Febrile seizures, relatively common in kids younger than 5 years
old, can occur when a child develops a high
, usually with the temperature rising rapidly to 102Âº Fahrenheit
(38.9Âº Celsius) or more. While terrifying to parents, these
seizures are usually brief and rarely cause any problems, unless
the fever is associated with a serious infection, such as
. A child who has a febrile seizure is not more likely to develop
If Your Child Has a Seizure
A child who's having a seizure should be placed on the
ground or floor in a safe area. Remove any nearby objects. Loosen
any clothing around the head or neck.
try to wedge the child's mouth open or place an object between
the teeth, and
attempt to restrain movements. Once the seizure seems to have
ended, roll your child onto his or her side.
Call emergency medical services immediately if your child:
- has difficulty breathing
- turns bluish in color
- has sustained a head injury
- seems ill
- has a known heart condition
- has never had a seizure before
- might have ingested any poisons, medications, etc.
If your child has previously had seizures, call emergency
services if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if the
seizure is different or unusual.
If your child is breathing normally and the seizure lasts just a
few minutes, you can wait until it has subsided, then call your
Following the seizure, your child will probably fall into a deep
sleep (this is called the postictal period). This is normal, and
you should not try to wake your child.
attempt to give food or drink until your child is awake and
For a child who has febrile seizures, the doctor may suggest
that you give fever-reducing medicine (such as ibuprofen or
acetaminophen) to control the fever and prevent seizures from
recurring. Your doctor may also recommend sponging your child with
lukewarm water to help cool him or her down.
Following a seizure - particularly if it is a first or
unexplained seizure - call your doctor or emergency medical service
for instructions. Your child will usually need to be evaluated by a
doctor as soon as possible.
Michael H. Goodman, MD
Date reviewed: October 2006
Originally reviewed by:
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.