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Recurrent Seizures in Adults


A seizure is an episode of abnormal brain activity. A seizure can cause jerky muscle movements, loss of consciousness, or confusion. Recurrent means you have a seizure more than once. The cause of your seizures may not be known. Recurrent seizures may occur if you do not take antiseizure medicine as directed. Some common triggers are alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, fever, or a virus. High or low blood sugar levels can also trigger a seizure.


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 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.
  • You have diabetes or are pregnant and have a seizure.
  • You have a seizure in water.

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.


  • Antiepileptic medicine may be given to control or prevent seizures. Do not stop taking this medicine without the direction of a healthcare provider.
  • 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 of 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.

Prevent another seizure:

  • Take your antiseizure medicine every day at the same time. This will also help reduce side effects. Do not skip any doses. Do not stop taking this medicine unless directed by a healthcare provider.
  • 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.

Manage recurrent seizures:

  • 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 the following instructions to use if you have another seizure:
    • Do not panic.
    • Gently guide me to the floor or a soft surface.
    • Do not hold me down or put anything in my mouth.
    • Place me on my side to help prevent me from swallowing saliva or vomit.
      First Aid: Seizures (ADULT)
    • Protect me from injury. Remove sharp or hard objects from the area surrounding me, or cushion my head.
    • Loosen the clothing around my head and neck.
    • Time how long my seizure lasts. Call 911 if my seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if I have a second seizure.
    • Stay with me until my seizure ends. Let me rest until I am fully awake.
    • Perform CPR if I stop breathing or you cannot feel my pulse.
    • Do not give me anything to eat or drink until I am fully awake.

Follow up with your doctor or neurologist as directed:

You may need more tests to find the cause of your seizure. You may also need tests to check the level of antiseizure medicine in your blood. Your neurologist may need to change or adjust your medicine. 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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