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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Seizures in children

Seizures in children

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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.

Seizures in children

Some seizures may be the result of a medical problem. Low blood sugar, infection, a head injury, 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 as epilepsy.

 


Febrile seizures, relatively common in kids younger than 5 years old, can occur when a child develops a high fever, usually with the temperature rising rapidly to 102° Fahrenheit (38.9° 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 meningitis. A child who has a febrile seizure is not more likely to develop epilepsy. 


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. Do not try to wedge the child's mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not 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.


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. Do not attempt to give food or drink until your child is awake and alert.


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.

 
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 doctor.