Caring for your child after a febrile seizure

A febrile seizure (fit) can happen when a child has a high temperature or sudden rise in temperature. It is sometimes called a febrile convulsion. It usually happens in children aged from six months to five years and affects one in 20 children. The risk increases if there is a family history of febrile seizures or your child suffers from frequent illness, coughs, colds, viral and bacterial infections. 

Having a febrile seizure doesn't mean that your child will go on to develop epilepsy or brain damage. However, there is a possiblity that your child may have another febrile seizure in the future..

A febrile seizure usually lasts for less than 10 minutes, during which your child may:

  • Clench their jaw
  • Jerk and stiffen their arms and legs
  • Roll their eyes
  • Wet themselves
  • Bite their tongue
  • Be unresponsive
  • Have mouth secretions.

Following the seizure, your child will probably sleep or may be miserable. This is quite normal. Try to lower your child's temperature by removing some of their clothes and giving a dose of children's paracetamol (eg Calpol) or ibuprofen (eg children's Nurofen). Please follow the instructions on the packaging carefully and do not give more than the recommended dose.

What should I do if my child has another febrile seizure?

  • Lay your child on their side on the floor
  • Move away any objects that could harm them
  • Do not put anything in their mouth.

Call an ambulance by dialling 999 or bring your child to hospital only if your child:

  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Has another seizure after the first one stops
  • Has a seizure lasting longer than five minutes
  • Becomes lethargic in a short space of time.

You can find more information about febrile convulsions on the NHS website. This includes information about when to seek advice about recurring seizures and complications.