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Recurrent Seizures in Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a recurrent seizure?

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. Some common triggers are alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, fever, or a virus. High or low blood sugar levels can also trigger a seizure.

How is a recurrent seizure treated?

You may need seizure medicine if you do not already take it. If you currently take seizure medicine, the dose or type of medicine may need be changed. Recurrent seizures may occur if you do not take antiseizure medicine as directed. Surgery may be needed to remove a tumor or fix a problem in your brain.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to help prevent seizures?

  • 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.

What can I do to 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.

What do I need to know about stopping my medicine?

Your healthcare provider can help you understand and make decisions about continuing or stopping antiseizure medicines. Do not stop taking your medicine until you talk to your provider. You may need to be seizure free for 18 to 24 months before you can stop your medicine. Seizures might happen again while you stop taking the medicine, or after you stop. Rarely, these seizures no longer respond to medicines. Tests such as an EEG may be useful in helping you and your provider make medicine decisions.

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.

When should I call my doctor?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.