When fever leads to fits
Don’t get too big a fright if your toddler’s high fever causes a febrile convulsion.

One minute your toddler is whiny and sweaty with a high fever, the next thing his eyes roll back and he is twitching.

What you are witnessing (probably in horror) is a febrile convulsion.

They most commonly occur between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, especially if they have a fever and a viral infection.

Febrile convulsions are rare in babies under six months old and over the age of six years.

No treatment is usually needed for the convulsion itself, if it stops within a few minutes.

It’s not usually dangerous and your baby will probably recover completely.

A febrile convulsion is not the same as an epileptic seizure, although people commonly refer to both as “fits”.

What is it?

  • Your baby or toddler may look flushed, dazed and then become unconscious.
  • His eyes may appear to roll backwards.
  • Parts of the body may twitch or shake.
  • Your baby or toddler may be sleepy for some time afterwards.

What to do?

  • Lay your child on his side with his head level or slightly lower than the body (the recovery position).
  • Do not put anything into the mouth, but remove anything that could affect breathing, such as vomit or food.
  • Do not shake your child.
  • When the convulsion stops, try to lower your child's temperature to make him feel more comfortable. Give paracetamol and bath him with lukewarm (not cold) water. Do not bath him during the convulsion.

When to call the doctor?

  • If your child does not improve quickly, once a short convulsion is over.
  • A convulsion lasts more than five minutes.
  • Another convulsion starts soon after the first one stops.
  • Your child has difficulty breathing.

It's alright to be on high alert following your little one's convulsion. If your child has quite a lengthy convulsion, they may be admitted to hospital for observation, but if it was the first convulsion experienced, going back to your usual routine shouldn't be a problem.

You should, however, determine the cause of your child's fever and try to break it as soon as possible.

Has your child experienced a febrile convulsion? Did you know what to do? Share your experience by emailing chatback@parent24.com.

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Java Developer

Network IT Recruitment
R450 000.00 - R500 000.00 Per Month

Financial Manager

Communicate Recruitment: Finance 3
R750 000.00 - R800 000.00 Per Month

Property - Find a new home