Febrile Seizures: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Febrile Seizures: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a Mom who learned more about this than I ever wanted to.  Please speak to your doctor if you have any questions about febrile seizures.  

November 19, 2015 was the scariest day of my life.

It started like a normal day.  It was a Thursday.  My husband and I were both at work and the boys were at daycare.  Work was busy for me, so I didn’t stop for lunch until about 2:00.  When I did, like I often do, I went out to run an errand.

I checked my phone on the way into a store, then spent about 10 minutes looking at something for the kids.  I found what I needed and headed towards the till, taking my phone out of my purse to pull up a coupon.

When I looked at my phone, after only 10 minutes in the store, I had more than 10 missed calls and messages.  From daycare, from unknown numbers, from my husband, from my Mom, and from my brother.  I can’t even begin to describe for you my utter and complete panic in that moment.

Shaking and running out of the store, I called my husband, “What happened??”  He told me that one of our sons had a seizure at daycare, and was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance.  Daycare hadn’t been able to reach either of us, so they were making their way down our emergency contact list.

I don’t need to tell you about the worst case scenarios that ran through my head during that panicked drive to the hospital.  My son was completely fine when we dropped him off at daycare that morning.  He wasn’t sick, he didn’t have a fever – there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary that would suggest something was wrong.

My husband, my brother and I all converged at the hospital, beating the ambulance there.  After an agonizing wait, the ambulance arrived, and my poor, lethargic little guy was whisked inside.  I don’t recall much of the next few minutes, but I remember with absolute clarity the moment I heard the doctor say, “He’s febrile.”

Febrile.  I knew what that meant.  I’d heard of febrile seizures, but always thought that they only happened when a child was very sick, and their temperature got extremely high.  I was wrong.

Febrile seizures can be caused by a rapid increase in body temperature.  A child does not necessarily have to have an extremely high temperature to have a febrile seizure.

My son had a low grade fever by the time his temperature was taken at the hospital.  It was high enough to register as febrile, but nothing that would have caused more than a passing concern.  They believe that his temperature spiked when he was napping at daycare, and that’s what caused the seizure.

Fortunately, my son is completely fine.  The experience was terrifying for all of us, but the only long-term repercussion was increased anxiety on my part.  I now know that febrile seizures can occur before you are even aware that your child is sick.  This is comforting, because the alternatives are a lot more serious.  But it’s also terrifying, because this means they can occur without warning.

This was not our only experience with a febrile seizure.  There is a genetic component to febrile seizures, so once a child has one, that child and his or her siblings are at greater risk for a future febrile seizure.  I can tell you that knowing what I do now does not make a febrile seizure any less frightening to witness.  But instead of worrying that my child is developing epilepsy or even dying, I’m able to recognize that it’s likely a febrile seizure, even if there was previously no indication that the child was ill.

If I can leave you with one takeaway from this article, please remember that febrile seizures are not necessarily caused by an extremely high fever.  They can be caused by a rapid change in body temperature, and can occur before you are aware that your child is sick or has a fever.  You can read more about febrile seizures here, or speak to your doctor or health care professional.

Finally, I can’t write this article without recognizing the parents who have dealt with much more serious children’s health issues or emergencies.  While terrifying, a febrile seizure is relatively benign in the grand scheme of things.  Some parents have had to deal with the unimaginable, and some are dealing with it on a regular basis.  This experience gave me a very small glimpse into what those parents face, and those parents have my utmost respect and admiration for their strength and courage.

As a parent there are few things more terrifying than witnessing your child having a febrile seizure. Click here for the one thing every parent needs to know about febrile seizures. #seizure #febrileseizure #fever #baby #toddler
As a parent there are few things more terrifying than witnessing your child having a febrile seizure. Click here for the one thing every parent needs to know about febrile seizures. #seizure #febrileseizure #fever #baby #toddler
As a parent there are few things more terrifying than witnessing your child having a febrile seizure. Click here for the one thing every parent needs to know about febrile seizures. #seizure #febrileseizure #fever #baby #toddler
A high fever in a baby or toddler can be terrifying, but isn't necessarily the warning sign of a febrile seizure. Here's the one thing every parent NEEDS to know about febrile seizures. #seizure #febrileseizure #fever #baby #toddler #kidshealth

5 thoughts on “Febrile Seizures: What Every Parent Needs to Know”

  • Hello, my name is mona I am a mother of two beautiful boys ages 2 yrs old and 4 months. My oldest has had now two febrile seizures and I cant Express enough how terrifying it is to watch him have those horrible seizures not being able to do anything. This second time that he had his seizure he was active and no signs of getting sick. Right when my husband was going to take him to his room he calls me and tells me that he is having his seizure once again. It is the worse thing that anyone can go through I cant express enough how this has made me feel everytime that he is starting to get sick I get extremely nervous because I dont want him to get his seizure again. He does suffer from swollen tonsils and I’ve noticed that that is one of the main reasons why he gets these damn seizures. It’s so frustrating because I have never suffered from anything like that. 😭

    • My heart goes out to you – it’s hands-down the most terrifying thing I’ve ever witnessed. If I can offer you any reassurance, my boys are now 7 and 5 and seem to have grown out of febrile seizures completely. That doesn’t stop me from being nervous any time they seem to be getting sick though. I’m not sure when that fear will completely go away.

    • Hi, On my blog, i go into detail about why febrile seizures happen and the scientific studies done on them and what you can actually do to be proactive and help support your childs nervous system, even when they are well so that a fever does not cause enough effect to the nervous system.
      Julia – Basically Wellness

      • Thank you for your research and post. It gives me some peace to knlw I can help my child and hope she never has a seizure again.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. My daughter just went through this a few days ago. 3 days before Christmas and it has been the worst moment of my life!!! I am searching for answers and found your post. I am in a complete panic all day and nighy checking her making sure shes ok.

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