How dangerous is a 105 degree fever

Febrile seizure

Febrile seizures are the most common seizure events in childhood and are triggered by the rapidly rising temperature associated with a fever. Infants and young children are affected. A febrile seizure is usually harmless.

Short version:

  • Febrile seizures are usually brief, but generally harmless despite their drastic appearance.
  • In rare cases, they can also be a sign of a serious illness such as epilepsy, especially if they happen several times within a 24-hour period.
  • A visit to the doctor is recommended in any case.

How do you get febrile seizures?

Usually there is initially a viral febrile infection, more rarely bacterial infections. Febrile convulsions are also seen after vaccinations. Despite these actually less dangerous circumstances, the doctor must always be able to rule out a serious illness of another kind with certainty.

Who is most likely to get a febrile seizure?

Febrile seizures occur mainly in children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years. Hereditary factors also play a role: If the family has already had febrile seizures, the likelihood of a seizure increases. Febrile convulsions are based on a predisposition of the brain to react to fever or a rapid rise in temperature with seizures in a certain development phase.

Depending on which febrile seizure symptoms occur, a distinction is made between simple and complicated febrile seizures:

  • A easier or uncomplicated febrile seizure takes less than 15 minutes, affects the whole body and is mostly harmless. Usually, there will be no more seizures in the first 24 hours after the first seizure.
  • A more complex or complicated febrile seizure can last more than 15 minutes and repeat within 24 hours. In about 4 out of 100 cases, a complicated febrile seizure is the first sign of later epilepsy or another illness that needs to be investigated. This type of febrile seizure occurs much less often.

What does a febrile seizure look like?

Febrile seizures occur when the temperature rises rapidly, most likely when the body temperature exceeds 39 ° C. Typically all parts of the body are affected, sometimes just a single limb. The children can turn blue or pale in the face, in particular, and their breathing is compressed. Typical signs are:

  • Muscle twitching
  • rolled eyes
  • sudden loss of consciousness

A simple febrile seizure usually only lasts a few seconds to minutes and the symptoms go away on their own. After the attack, the child often looks very sleepy. As bad as a febrile seizure may seem, the child usually recovers from the event very quickly.

What can you do?

  • Loosen the child's clothes.
  • Move hard objects out of the way so that the child cannot injure themselves.
  • Do not try to suppress the twitching.
  • Do not give the child anything to eat or drink.
  • If the child is vomiting, gently turn them on their side.
  • Once the cramp is over, the child is placed on its side in a stable position.

After the spasm, the child should be examined by a doctor.

What complications can arise? Can it get worse?

In most cases, febrile seizures are over by the time you arrive at the hospital or at the doctor's. In any case, the doctor must ensure that meningitis (inflammation of the meninges) can be ruled out. In case of doubt, a puncture of the spinal fluid is carried out in the hospital. With a simple febrile seizure, around every third child is at risk of recurrence.

How can you prevent febrile seizures?

Febrile convulsions cannot be prevented, but in the case of later infections it is useful to use antipyretic medication from a temperature of 38.5 ° C. If the child has already had a febrile seizure, you should have antispasmodic medication (prescribed by a doctor) at home. However, these should only be given in the event of a seizure. Prophylactic administration is not recommended.

+++ More on the topic: Measuring a fever - what methods are there? +++

How do febrile seizures develop?

Around 30 percent of all children with febrile seizures also have more, which can rarely occur more frequently. The main concern, of course, is always that epilepsy could develop. This risk is higher in children with cramps before the age of 9 months, in the case of a clear epilepsy in the immediate family, in cramps that last longer than 15 minutes, and above all in the case of an abnormal development (mental, physical) before the cramp. Without these risk factors, the incidence of epilepsy after febrile seizures is around 1 percent.

When should a child with a febrile seizure see a doctor?

After the first febrile seizure, a child should always be examined by a doctor. Exceptions exist if children have already had several febrile seizures that were easily controllable and that passed quickly. However, since there are several possible causes for every new spasm, one should always seek medical advice primarily. In the case of a complicated febrile seizure, a child must be examined in the hospital. As a rule, a child with a complicated febrile seizure is kept in hospital for at least one night to clarify the cause.

How does the doctor make a diagnosis?

By precisely questioning the accompanying persons and examining the child, essential information can be obtained which, in the vast majority of cases, does not require further examinations in the case of uncomplicated febrile seizures. Blood draws and EEG examinations (measurement of brain waves) are not routinely necessary. Treatment depends on the symptoms and the frequency of the seizures.

When a febrile seizure occurs, parents are usually very frightened and fear for the child's life, especially if it is the first one, as a febrile seizure can look very dramatic. Fortunately, the vast majority of the cramps are uncomplicated and unproblematic. In any case, a doctor should be consulted. The prognosis is usually good.

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Prim. Univ.Prof. Dr. Manfred Götz (2004)
Medical review:
Priv.-Doz. GDR. Tamás Fazekas (2017)
Editorial editing:
Silke Brenner (2017)

Status of medical information:

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ICD-10: R56.0