Article at a Glance
It is hard to imagine anything scarier than watching your child have a seizure. But seizures are usually not as scary as they look. Most only last a few minutes and don’t result in any lasting medical problems. The most important thing is to stay calm and make sure your child is in a safe place.
Seizures happen when the neurons in the brain all start to fire at once, interrupting the brain’s normal electrical function. The symptoms of the seizure depend on which part of the brain is affected. One might experience muscle spasms, odd sensations, unresponsiveness, confusion, stiffening of the body, or loss of consciousness.
Causes can include a high fever, head injury, infection, low blood sugar, drug overdose, congenital conditions, poisoning, a brain tumor, or other medical problems. If somebody has two or more unprovoked, recurrent seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy – a neurological condition that makes people more susceptible to seizures.
- The seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.
- Your child is having problems breathing or you notice a change of color in your child’s face.
- Your child recently had a head injury.
- Your child has a heart condition.
- Your child has ingested any medications or poisons.
- You are worried about your child’s safety.
- Your child does not appear to recover quickly after the seizure.
One of the most common types of seizures for children ages 3 months to 6 years old are febrile seizures. In the United States, they occur in 2 to 5 percent of children under the age of 5. Febrile seizures can be triggered by a high fever over 101 F or other illnesses like ear infections, colds, or the flu. Although they are frightening to watch, in most cases, febrile seizures only last a few minutes and don’t cause any long-term health problems. But be sure to call your doctor right away so that your child can be evaluated.