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Status Epilepticus


Status epilepticus

is a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes. It can also be a second seizure before you are fully awake and aware after the first. A tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure is the most common type that leads to status epilepticus. This type of seizure causes loss of consciousness and convulsions. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency. It can cause permanent brain damage or death.

Have someone else call 911 if:

  • You have another seizure that 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 a seizure.
  • You have a seizure in water, such as a swimming pool or bath tub.
  • You have diabetes or are pregnant and have a seizure.
  • You have more than 1 seizure before you are fully awake or aware.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You are injured during a seizure.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You start to have seizures more often.
  • You feel extremely sad, anxious, or are unable to cope with your condition.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Your healthcare provider will treat the underlying cause of your seizure if it is known. You may need IV medicine to stop status epilepticus. You may need multiple medicines to control or stop your seizures. You may also need other treatments if status epilepticus causes problems with breathing or circulation.

What you can do to help prevent another episode of status epilepticus:

  • Take your medicine every day at the same time. This will help prevent seizures. Use an alarm to help you remember to take your medicine. Do not skip any doses or take less than directed.
  • Identify and avoid your seizure triggers. Common triggers include alcohol, drugs, flashing lights, and moving patterns. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to quit using drugs or drinking alcohol.
  • Drink plenty of liquids and eat a variety of healthy foods. Dehydration and poor nutrition can trigger a seizure. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. Also ask how much liquid you need each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Manage stress. A large amount of stress can increase your risk for a seizure. Do activities that help relax you such as yoga, reading, or meditation. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you need therapy or other ways to manage your stress.
  • Set a sleep schedule. A lack of sleep is a powerful trigger of seizures in some people. 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 have trouble sleeping.

What others can do to keep you safe if you have another seizure:

Give the following instructions to family, friends, and coworkers:

  • Do not panic.
  • Do not hold me down or put anything in my mouth.
  • Gently guide me to the floor or a soft surface.
  • 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.

Carry medical alert identification:

Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have seizures. Ask your neurologist where to get these items.

Medical Alert Jewelry

Follow up with your neurologist as directed:

You will need blood 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.

Further information

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