Q: My 4-year old daughter has had several febrile seizures. Oftentimes, the seizure is the first indication I have that she's sick. I thought these seizures were something that happened to infants and toddlers. Why is she still having them at her age?
A: Seizures are caused by waves of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. When they occur, your child may stare off for a few seconds, become stiff, then twitch, or shake and roll her eyes. Seizures are usually short-lived, lasting less than one minute but can also last for up to 15 minutes.
A febrile seizure means the seizure is caused by a fever. Febrile seizures most commonly occur in children ages 6 months to 6 years old. They also rarely happen more than once within a 24-hour period. Other kinds of seizures — ones that are not caused by fever — can last longer, affect one part or side of the body and occur repeatedly. If your child has had a febrile seizure, notify your doctor right away. If your child has had a seizure lasting longer than five minutes, you should call 911.
Your daughter may be at greater risk to have recurrent febrile seizures, especially if they began before her first birthday. Febrile seizures can also run in families. If it is determined that your daughter has had a simple febrile seizure, then do not worry. These types of seizures are not dangerous to your child and do not cause long-term health problems. If you have further concerns about this issue or anything related to your child's health, it's always best to talk with your child's pediatrician.
— Trey Dyer, M.D., CHI Memorial Pediatric Diagnostic Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society