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New-onset Seizure in Adults
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A seizure is a burst of electrical activity in your brain. A seizure may start in one part of your brain, or both sides may be affected. The seizure may last a few seconds or up to 5 minutes. A new-onset seizure is a seizure that happens for the first time. Some common triggers are alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, fever, or an infection. High or low blood sugar levels, pregnancy, a head injury, or a stroke could also trigger a seizure. The cause of your seizure may not be known. You have a higher risk for another seizure within the next 2 years.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone else call for any of the following:
- Your seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- You have a second seizure that happens within 24 hours of your first.
- You have trouble breathing after a seizure.
- You cannot be woken after your seizure.
- You have more than 1 seizure before you are fully awake or aware.
Call your doctor if:
- You are injured during a seizure.
- You have a fever.
- You are planning to get pregnant or are currently pregnant.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may be given the following:
- Antiepileptic medicine may control or prevent another seizure. Do not stop taking this medicine without direction from a healthcare provider.
- Antibiotics treat an infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
What you can do to manage or prevent a seizure:
- Manage stress. Stress can trigger a seizure. Exercise can help you reduce stress. Talk to your healthcare provider about exercise that is safe for you. Other ways to manage stress include yoga, meditation, and biofeedback. Illness can be a form of stress. Eat a variety of healthy foods and drink plenty of liquids during an illness.
- Set a regular sleep schedule. A lack of sleep can trigger a seizure. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Keep your bedroom quiet and dark. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble sleeping.
- Manage other medical conditions. Manage other health conditions that may increase your risk for a seizure. Keep your blood sugar levels and blood pressure under control.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Alcohol can trigger a seizure, especially if you drink a large amount at one time. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 1½ ounces of liquor, or 5 ounces of wine. Talk to your healthcare provider about a safe amount of alcohol for you. Your provider may recommend that you do not drink any alcohol. Tell him or her if you need help to quit drinking.
- Ask what safety precautions you should take. Talk with your healthcare provider about driving. You may not be able to drive until you are seizure-free for a period of time. You will need to check the law where you live. Also talk to your healthcare provider about swimming and bathing. You may drown or develop life-threatening heart or lung damage if you have a seizure in water.
- Tell your friends, family members, and coworkers that you had a seizure. Give them written instructions to follow if you have another seizure.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or neurologist as directed:
You may need more tests to find the cause of your seizure. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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