Treatment for Febrile Seizures

Contact your child's physician as soon as possible following a febrile seizure. If the seizure lasts several minutes or the child has difficulty breathing, call 911.

If your child has a febrile seizure, try to stay calm. The following steps can help your child avoid injury and other complications during a febrile seizure:

  • Do not move your child unless he or she is in a dangerous location (e.g., near the top of the stairs).
  • Remove any harmful objects from the area (e.g., sharp or heavy objects that may fall on your child) and loosen or remove clothing from the waist up (to help prevent choking).
  • Do not try to restrain your child.
  • If saliva, vomit, or mucus builds up in your child's mouth, turn the child onto his or her side. If your child is having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.
  • Do not try to give your child anything by mouth. Do not put anything into the child's mouth to prevent the child from biting his or her tongue.
  • Watch for signs of breathing difficulty (e.g., changes in the color of the child's face).
  • Apply a cool (not cold) washcloth to help reduce the fever. Do not put your child into the bath.

Once the seizure is over, contact your child's pediatrician or bring your child to the emergency room. Describe all symptoms that your child experienced, before, during, and after the seizure (e.g., pain, stiff neck, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, rash, abnormal movements) to his or her physician. Children often are sleepy or confused following a febrile seizure.

Follow your physician's recommendations for administering fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. An acetaminophen suppository (which is inserted into the child's rectum) often reduces fever quickly and may be recommended. Do not give your child aspirin, as it increases the risk for a serious condition called Reye syndrome.

In many cases, no additional treatment is required following a febrile seizure. However, if the child experiences complex febrile seizures, has other serious symptoms, or is younger than 18 months old, further testing and treatment, including hospitalization for observation, may be necessary.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014