What actually causes a child to convulse when she has a febrile seizure?

Seizure Activity. During a febrile seizure, the brain is responding to the increased body temperature. Seizure activity (in general) is caused by a focal point of "hyper-activity" in a part of the brain, in response to the fever.

Related Questions

What must I do when my child has a febrile seizure?

Go to ER immediately. Child will need immediate work-up with blood and urine cultures and tests plus lumbar puncture to diagnose cause and be started on appropriate parenteral broad spectrum antibiotics asap.

If my child has a fever, will he have a febrile seizure?

No. Febrile seizures are common in children between 6 months and 6 years of age. They occur when your child's temperature raises rapidly. So, no, not all children with fevers will have a febrile seizure. About one in twenty-five children in this age group will have a febrile seizure. But the risk is slightly higher if your child has a sibling who has had a febrile seizure in the past.
No. Not all children with fever have seizures. In fact, it is a low percentage.
Not common. Febrile seizures are not common, but they do occur most often in pediatric patients. If this is a recurrent pattern, it is something that is best evaluated by a pediatric neurologist.
Depends. Febrile seizures are uncommon, but definitely something to be concerned about, especially if the child's temperature rises above 104-105 degrees. Cooling blankets, tylenol, (acetaminophen) and Motrin are all reasonable ways to manage a child's fever.
Not usually. If a child is meant to have a seizure with a fever, or febrile seizure, they are going to have it regardless of temperature level. A fever itself will not be the reason for the seizure.

What should I do if my child is having a febrile seizure?

Place on side. While he is convulsing, place him on his side. Don't try to stop the convulsions and don't put anything in his mouth. Also keep an eye on the clock. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911. After the seizure has stopped, take your child to a physician immediately to rule out the presence of a serious infection.
Remain calm. Febrile seizures are very common. They reflect a toxic state of the child. Most important is to protect the breathing. Place the child down on his side and keep the mouth clear. Do not stick anything into the mouth. Extend the chin forward, wipe the mouth, and be sure he can get good fresh air. A rectal gel is available as well as oral tablet that can dissolve and soon a nasal spray.
First aide. Place your child on the floor. In case your have to call 911 there will not be possible fall from bed. Turn the child on side. If the mouth is open, place something soft between the teeth and sweep the mouth to remove any contents. If the mouth is clenched, do not pry the teeth open, you might break them. Call 911 if the seizure lasts more than 2-3 min.

What can increase a child's chances of recurrent febrile seizures?

Febrile episodes. Any febrile illness or vaccination especially combined one, e.g., mmrv, can trigger febrile seizure in febrile seizure-prone child. One assuring fact is that once child reaches 6 years old, he/she no longer experiences febrile seizure.
Certain illnesses. Children are at risk for seizures during certain types of illnesses. Most famous are roseola, shigella, measles, but also flu and urine infections. The risk is highest between 1 and 3 years of age, and there may be a familial tendency. Nearly all will outgrow the risk and do well.

Are there longterm risks for a child who experienced febrile seizures?

Usually not. Seizures of any sort are very scary for parents to witness! Luckily, seizures (sz) that only happen in the setting of fever are usually not damaging. Phew! More serious things to watch for: sz with no fever, febrile sz in child w other neurodevelopmental issues, sz that seems to start in one part of the body vs whole body shaking, multiple sz in a day or >15 min. Then chat w md about future risks.

Possible for my 6y child to suffer from a first time febrile seizure early on in pneumonia?

Yes. A common definition includes development of a brief <5min seizure that occurs in kids 6m-6yr associated with rapid rise of temperature. A common scene is a child found shaking & parents realizing they were febrile when they pick them up. More details would be needed to properly label the event but it could occur.

If my older child had febrile seizures should I expect my newborn to have them, too?

No. Although there is a higher incidence of febrile convulsions in children whose parents have had them it is more likely your child won't. Febrile convulsions are a scary but not dangerous condition.
No. I would not expect a newborn to have febrile seizures. Seizures with fever have their highest incidence in the 6 month to two year age group and usually subside by age 5. Having one child with febrile seizures will make you more aware as a parent for the nuances in the sibling. I agree they are scary but are not dangerous.
No, but... If a sibling has experienced febrile seizures, it is more likely the other siblings will have them, but it is still a rather uncommon occurrence, and though it is scary to experience it should not be considered to be a sign of something ominous. Good luck!