34 answers

Toddler Hallucinations

My 3yr old daughter had a fever yesterday. I believe the fever was due to a cold. Prior to bed time she was provided children's acetaminophen. About a hour and half later she was screaming ants were in her bed. Ichecked it out and nothing was there. I calmed her and thought maybe she was dreaming. In the middle of the night she came to my room and got in the bed which I allowed because she wasn't feeling well. While in bed I noticed she was talking alot, but it was as though she was having a conversation. She got quiet and eventually yelled very loudly for her sister. The thing that bothered me was during this time she was not sleep. I became a little nervous so I turned toward her and a few minutes last she yelled, " mom it's bugs on your head." SO I continued to monitor her and begin to look at her eyes. It seemed she was really not aware of what was going on until I would speak to her. Her eyes were opening and closing as if she was fighting her sleep. And every time they actaully closed her arms would jerk slightly and she would say something out of the ordinary. She also made a couple of weird facial expressions. (this is all while she was awake)Finally i turned on the light. She was herself for a minute but begin the same routine distant stare, blinking eyes, moving a little funny, and talking out of the ordinary. After about twenty minutes she asked for some milk and crakers. I provided the snack and drink and we went and sat in the living room as I prepared to go to E.R. It took me about thirty minutes but she fell asleep without incident on the couch. Her dad monitored her the remainder of the night and she appeared fine. I was wondering if anyone has experienced this, or know what may have brought on the hallucinations. Me and her father thought it may have been the medication, but she has had it before

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Thanks the information really eased my mind. The fever returned Monday and we went to the Dr. My daughter had bronchitis. The doctor really didn't say anything about the hallucinations but if they return to bring her back in. I must admit this was one of life lessons I was not prepared for.

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You didn't say if you used the dye free tylenol or flavored. My grson would have reactions similar if we used flavored/ colored meds.
Normally, hallucinations in cases like this are from escalating temps or medication reactions.

I agree that it was probably night terrors. A lot of toddlers experience them. It is a little frightening for M. though. I remember one night my daughter was crying and trying to pick something up off the floor. She just said she couldn't get them all. One other time, I was trying to console her and she said 'I want my Mommy'. When I said I was right here, she looked right at me and said, 'No you're not, I want my Mommy!' Now as we look back, some of those were pretty funny ( though not at the time). They only lasted a couple of months. My grandson did the same thing.

I am a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 4. When I was little and through my high school years everytime I had an ear infection with fever (which I had often)- I hallucinated. It became comical for my sisters but I didn't like it at all. I have only hallucinated one time since being an adult and it was when I had an ear infection. I'm not saying this is what's wrong with her but if so I hope this helps.

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i don't know if this will help or not but it seems like every time i give my 2 year old tylenol, she wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. Last time she was looking at the wall very strangely. After i turned on the light and talked to her fr a minute she's okay. One tie too she kept yelling out for me and when i would try to comfort her she would kick and scream louder and harder. I know that when she does it freaks me out. I've started giving her motrin and it seems to be better. Hope this helps.

I am not sure but I used to have hallucinations when I was younger of snakes in the bed... and my mom told me it's because i ate too much candy... and i guess she was right because they only came after i had eaten candy all day!

You have probably received this response by now but most likely they hallucinations were caused by her fever. That's very common. However, there can be many other causes for the symptoms you listed such as seizures, which come in many varieties. Just to be on the safe side I would contact your Pedi first thing tomorrow morning. Esp. if she has had these before and even more so if they were absent of a fever. Good luck and hope she feels better soon.

Both of my sons have hallucinated when their fever spiked. They will both talk crazy when their fever is really high. Were you able to get her fever down? If her fever will not break, I would call your dr. Ususally someone is on call that can advise you. Ours usually tells us to take them to Cooks ER. I know there is a 24 hour Cooks in the mid-cities off of Precinct Line if you are closer to them. It looks like they are closed, but there is a doorbell to ring after 11:00.
I hope she is better soon. That is always scary.

It may have been a night terror...it is like sleep walking but they seem awake, talk, etc., but are not truly awake. My son did this the first time when he had a fever. After that he would do it on occasion for a long time...and finally outgrew it. He would say that we needed to hide, that someone was after us and to trust him, or that he had jumped out of a plane and his parachute had not opened, etc. He would answer questions and everything. And no memory of it the next morning. Strange and scary and not condusive to a good night's sleep! Good luck.

My granddaughter has "night terrors". Sounds like the same thing. The doctor says that the best thing to do is just not to let them hurt themselves. They will not remember it the next morning. My granddaughter is six and she is still having them, but not as often.

Was her fever very high?

Hi, I would take her to your pediatrician and ask her about it or what you need to do.

I have 2 boys, 7 and 4. Both of them have had several incidnets like what you've mentioned. Some while they were sick, and some at times when they were perfectly fine; maybe just a little over tired. You probably thought she was awake because her eyes were open, but she most likely wasn't. I know it is scary, especially the first time it happens. It's hard to get them to snap out of it. For my boys, I have to let it run it's course and they eventually calm down. I just let them know that mommy is here and they are going to be okay. I don't know what causes it. For my oldest, it started happening after he lost his grandmother. They were very close. Only he would cry out for me, and tell me they were out to hurt me. He could never tell me who they were, just that he was scared. But it all started after his Grammy died. Sometimes, fever makes them do it too. That's usually when my youngest does it, is when he is running a fever. Hopefully she will rest better tonight.

could also possibly be the red dye in the medicine if it has it. My sisters daughter did that everytime she drank anything with red dye like Hawaiann Punch. She would imagine spiders and such. Just a possibility. They actually sell medicine that is dye free now because I think many kids have negative side effects to it.

You didn't mention how high the fever had gotten. Maybe it was from that. Or maybe she was doing all of this in her sleep. It is possible that she was asleep the whole time, but just appeared to be awake. It is a little more common than most people realize. However, I would mention this to her pediatrician just to be sure.

I never had that scary event, but I have had allergic reactions to meds that felt like ants crawling on me. Benedryl helps that.

Hi
My niece does this on occasion when her fever is high, the doctor said that when children or anyone for that fact is running a high fever it can cause hallucinations as well as convulsions.

My soon did this too, several it times. He is 5 now & happens much less frequently. He also wakes up screaming that there are ants or bugs on him, or in his bed.

It started when he was about 2. The last time was about 3 months ago.

The doctor told me it was called night terrors. He told me to be with him, & that I could hold him & comfort him. He said he would talk to me without being awake, even if his eyes were open.

Very frightening as a mom, but they have been harmless. He does not remember anything about them in the morning.

I know this post is a little old but thought I'd try....
My 2.5 yr old daughter has done this sme thing the last few nights. Saying "skitos" are getting her. The first morning after she continued to do it during the day but last night it just happen at bedtime-before she was even asleep. She was almost hysterical until daddy went in and got her out of bed. She does not have full blown ear infection but poss. the start of one. and has not had a fever or watched any bad tv shows/movies. She woke again this morning and it took 3 hrs to get her to fall asleep again. Any suggestions? It's kinda scary b/c my daughter has never been afraid of anything-especially the dark.

I agree that it was probably night terrors. A lot of toddlers experience them. It is a little frightening for M. though. I remember one night my daughter was crying and trying to pick something up off the floor. She just said she couldn't get them all. One other time, I was trying to console her and she said 'I want my Mommy'. When I said I was right here, she looked right at me and said, 'No you're not, I want my Mommy!' Now as we look back, some of those were pretty funny ( though not at the time). They only lasted a couple of months. My grandson did the same thing.

Those are night terror attacks. I had them as a kid. It is probably best to take her to her pediatrician to get more information because it is something you will probably deal with for a year or so until she grows out of them. Mine were periodic - maybe 1 to 2 a month. Most the time I was completely asleep and wouldn't remember it in the morning, but every once in awhile I would wake up in the middle and then remember them. It really freaked out my parents. That was 30 years ago and every one thought I had something worse and I went through a bunch of medical tests, but it turned out to be something that everyone just waited out and they went away.

Apparently, this can be caused from various problems so call your pediatrician so he can ask the questions to determine if the child needs to be tested for seizures. While I hallucinated a few times with high fever, I never talked or went to my parents. I was 5, 8, and 23 when they happened. I "talked" to the people or animals in the room in my head and cried in frustration that they wouldn't leave the room and let me go back to sleep. Once, I even got up, went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, hoping it would break the hallucination and I saw that I had been crying, all red-faced, and didn't even know it. I remembered all episodes clearly. It broke when someone spoke to me or if it was morning. Your description seems much different and more like a seizure-like episode. We only used asperin back then. I have also heard that some night terrors are a first sign of a rarish bipolar disease in children. So, I hope you check it out with a good doctor because sometimes catching something early saves a lot of heartache.

I had these as a child and was when I was really sick and had a high fever. Would not hurt to mention to her doctor, but it was probably the fever.

If this was a isolated event it sounds like it was probably caused by her fever. I haven't this happen with my little ones but my mom tells me I had hallucination from a high fever once as a kid. (something about fish in her water bed biting me I think)
As long as you have her fever managed and it doesn't keep recurring I wouldn't worry about it.

I am a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 4. When I was little and through my high school years everytime I had an ear infection with fever (which I had often)- I hallucinated. It became comical for my sisters but I didn't like it at all. I have only hallucinated one time since being an adult and it was when I had an ear infection. I'm not saying this is what's wrong with her but if so I hope this helps.

You didn't say if you used the dye free tylenol or flavored. My grson would have reactions similar if we used flavored/ colored meds.
Normally, hallucinations in cases like this are from escalating temps or medication reactions.

My nephew had this happen when he was given benadryl. Turns out he's allergic to the red dye. Weirdest thing ever, but it did make him hallucinate.

Could it have possibly been a febrile seizure brought on by the fever? I would mention that when talking to the pediatrician. Glad she is okay.

Hi L., I did this as a child whenever I got a fever all the way until I was about 13. I had the same hallucination every time.

She may have been sleep walking. Years ago, my friends' child did something similar to this. It turned out that she was asleep the entire time. I would suggest talking with your doctor about it. Good luck!

I had night terrors as a child and a couple as an adult. My parents, siblings and husband have watched me do this with my eyes open talking and all. It sounds like she may be having them, but if they keep reoccurring I would talk to her doctor.

L.,
This has happened to two of my three children. It was always after I gave them medication with red dye in it. It has also happened after having a red colored soft drink or punch. It hasn't happened everytime, but we do try to avoid red dye now. Sometimes it is hard to find medication without red dye, and you have to weigh the risk. I talked with my doctor the first time it happened, and she just said it could be a reaction to red dye or just the fever. I pray that your daughter is better, and you get the answer you are looking for.

I would talk to her doctor about this, just to be on the safe side. My first thought is that it's a seizure. If the fever goes up too fast, it can cause them, but also just being sick or dehydrated can.

I would want to be on the safe side, though, when it comes to things like this. If she saw bugs on your head, that's not just feeling tingling, it's seeing things. She's probably just fine, but I would want to check it out just to be sure.

Good luck!

My 3 year old had this happen to her as well about 3 months ago. she was sick with some time of virus and woke up screaming out. when I asked her what was wrong she said there were bugs and ants in her bed. she was awake and was not dreaming or sleep walking. She then told me the bugs were now on my head. I went to get a thermometer and water and when I came back she said the ants were on the door now. She did have a fever and I thought it might be a hallucination from the fever, but when I checked it was low grade! This was strange. I was worried sick for the rest of the night. She has not done it since, and the dr. said it was probably just the fever. I still am concerned a little because the fever was not high at all. I do remember thinking it was a reaction to the medicine I had given her before bed also. I can't remember if it was tylenol or motrin. I am going to ask the dr. again next time we go. It is concerning. If you find out anything about this, I would be interested in anything you have learned. So scary. thank you for sharing.

Hi L.,
My youngest son when around 2 or 3 had a couple episodes when he was sick where he would cry in the middle of the night saying bugs were crawling on him. I had given him a type of children's cough medicine and decided after the second time it happened I wouldn't give it to him again. I forget what all was in it, but I think acetaminophen was an ingredient. But I've since given him acetaminophen only and he hasn't had a problem with it. Could have just been the fever or the fever mixed with what was in the cough medicine. It did freak me out a bit at a time.

Last night my 7 yr. old daughter was having auditory hallucinations and strange sensory issues, saying that her hands were getting smaller, then they felt like rocks. This all started between 1 and 2 hours after taking Children's Tylenol Meltaways. By the time she started hearing things her fever was down. The same thing happened about a year ago. She was hearing voices and babbling on about things that didn't make any sense. Again her fever was normal when the hallucinations started. Both times she was not asleep, but did not seem to be fully mentally present, delirious. Nothing like this has ever happened other then these two times after taking the Meltaways.

This happened once with my son and totally freaked me out! My husband thought it was kind of funny, of course.

He had a fever of 103-104. We try to use homeopathic remedies so we didn't give him acetaminophen (don't worry, we did give him something else which helped to bring the fever in check) so I know it wasn't the "medicine". He was awake, but acting funny and saying weird things...hallucinating. It lasted for about 15 minutes and then he fell asleep and when he woke up was fine. It never happened again though the fever continued on and off for 2-3 days. And it had never happened before.

My mom said she's seen it happen before with me as a child and my niece. My husband said it happened to him as a child. I guess sometimes the fever just makes them a bit loopy and out of it. I wouldn't worry. And if you don't feel better, ask your doctor.

It may be night terrors. Our son has them. Night terrors are different than nightmares. With night terrors they may walk around, talk, etc. but they are really asleep. Our son seems awake, but he does not remember anything. About all we can do is try to calm him.

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