14 answers

Night Terrors? or Something Else?

My son (20 monhts old) woke up lastnight at three o clock screaming like he's never screamed before and jerking his whole body. He wasn't siezing (I know what siezures look like) he was totally lucid for the most part, took a second to recognize me, but it was 3 AM. So I bundled him up and brought him in the bedroom,I checked his temperature and he was at about 102, he nursed, we gave him tylenol and fell asleep again. Then at about 4:15 or so he woke up again, whole body jerking and screaming. He knew it was me, he was lucid - not siezing - but jerking - like a startle reflex. But more severe. So I bundled him up and called the doctor who also didn't think it was a siezure. His temp went down to about 99 and once awake, he was jabbering like normal.

I read on Ask Dr. Sears that night terrors can be caused by being over tired (which he was) and in combination with the fever, the jerking might have been chills and fear related. But I wondered if any of you other moms' kids have experienced this. We were terrified, and he's sleeping now but I'm afraid he's going to wake up like that again...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

ADDENDUM: OK So after reading up a little more, I'm thinking that Brighton was having Febril Seizures or "fever fits" or at least the beginning of them. I guess they can be triggered by a sudden increase in body temp. He didn't have an all out seizure, but he did have the precursers of twitching. So if we would have just left him, he probably would have had a seizure. He may have been having night terrors as well. Now he's getting inflamed gums and has a blister on his lip and some on his tongue with a low grade fever. He's still not feeling well, but I'm hoping we're out of the woods and he's just got a cold sore from his body being so stressed. And, I'm considering changing doctors. If I can recognize these symptoms in 5 minutes from reading a book, she should have recognized them for sure. He did end up with a fever lastnight but when I called them, they told me to let them know if he has a fever at the end of the week. I'm just disgusted with them at this moment because I don't feel like Brighton's care was taken very seriously, nor was my instinct. And I don't have time for that and I'm surely not going to risk my son's health for it.

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He's the right age for night terrors to begin. His imagination is growing and he can become more afraid at night. The fever could have caused the bad dreams too. I wouldn't worry. It doesn't always last very long. Good luck.

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could he be teething, because that can cause both fevers and if the pain bothers him enough that could be setting him off. My daughter started working on her 2 year molars at about 20 mos and it would come and go for about 4 mos. the jerking sounds like a effect from the high fever.

I know what you are talking about. My son who is going on 3, he does the same thing. I have to almost pour water on him to get him to quit screaming. It usually happens when I am by myself and my husband is gone. The only thing I can do to help him with out drenching us is to just hold on tight and pray for him to wake up. His eyes are open but does not recognize any one. It has happened to us in a hotel where I thought I was going to have the cops outside my hotel room. I am always thinking that everytime I hear him cry it will be a night terror but it is like you said only when he is overly tired/overstimulated. I never had any trouble with my daughter who is 4 yrs older. He will not take a nap either. So I just try not to over stimulate him. I have never had him do it when he had a fever. One time my husband was home when it happened and he tried to hold him but he was fighting it and he asked my what should he do I said to let him go down on the floor and kick and scream and he did and about 2 minutes later he quit and we rocked him and he was asleep for the rest of the night. You are not alone with night terrors and I hope this helped you out.

He's the right age for night terrors to begin. His imagination is growing and he can become more afraid at night. The fever could have caused the bad dreams too. I wouldn't worry. It doesn't always last very long. Good luck.

How weird that you would ask about this! My daughter is 20months old and just last night she woke with a fever at Midnight, not sure how high, the battery is out in my thermoter, but she was hot. I gave her some Motrin, and put her in our bed, and she kept waking on and off for the rest of the night, crying and siting up......

I was wondering what was going on too. I am sorry I don't have any advise, just wanted to let you know, that you are not the only one going through this.

M.,
I have a 6 year old son who since infancy has been having night terrors. They come fewer and fewer now that he is older, but about once every two to three months he'll have one. He wakes up in the night screaming and terrified, jerking and shaking. The last one he had was about 1.5 month ago, he woke us up screaming, we went in to his room and he didn't even see us, as the same with all the other ones. He was looking right at us, but he was somewhere else. And terrified. Kept looking at the ceiling hiding from whatever it was that was after him. As a parent to see your child go through this and there's nothing you can do to help until he wakes up, this is very scary, and just plain eerie. I don't know really what causes them, or if there is any relief from them. But I do know what you are going through.

We also have two daughters, one is 5, she has NEVER had anything like this. Hardly ever dreams and she has never awakened screaming. Our baby girl is 11 months old and she has had a few screaming spells in the night, just waking up in the middle of the night screaming. SO I guess it's possible that she is taking after her brother. We are hoping it will not be as severe as his. Anyway, this reply probably doesn't help much, other than to know you are not alone with this. If you'd like to talk further about this or anything else, email me!! ____@____.com

Are you sure that it wasn't seizures (they can look different in different people-plus sometimes kids have them when they have a fever...) But it could be night terrors too...My son has had some of them where he screams and I can't get him to calm down...I was told it was best not to wake him...thats all I know...:)

Hi, My name is H. and I am a stay at home mom also I have two kids one Katrina is 5 years and Jasmine 1 year old. My 5 year old has had night terrors for 4 1/2 years now and if you would like to know anything about them as I have done alot of research on this, just give me a message and I will get beck to you.my email is ____@____.com

They sound like night terrors related to the fever. My daughter has them when she falls asleep on the couch. She is kind of a high strung girl and they started when my husband was deployed to Iraq. She wakes up looking for me and will fight me when I try to calm her down. They are scary because you feel helpless and your child looks terrified. Keep in mind that they don't remember them, so they are scarier for you than for the child. She is older than yours, she is 4. What has helped us is a strict bedtime routine. We put her to bed at the same time every night and go to bed and say a prayer for good dreams, then she lists the things she wants to dream about and then we say God bless daddy and keep him safe. We also got her a dream catcher for her room and we talked about what it does. She went to having them 2-3 times a week to maybe once a month. She will still have one if she falls asleep before we get the routine done. Good luck. I don't know if this will help because yours is so much younger than mine, but as you can see from your responses it seems to be a fairly common problem which I didn't know.

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