Information for the public

Care in particular situations

Long or repeated seizures away from a hospital

The box below describes the emergency care and treatment you should receive if you have a convulsive seizure (jerking movements made by the body during a seizure) that lasts for 5 minutes or more, or if you have 3 or more seizures in an hour.

Emergency care and treatment you should receive if your convulsive seizure lasts for 5 or more minutes or you have 3 or more seizures in an hour

  • A trained healthcare professional should give you the emergency medication that is most appropriate for you. However, you may have agreed beforehand which emergency medication should be used as part of your epilepsy care plan. If it has been agreed that a family member or a carer will give you the medication, they should have been trained to do this.

  • A drug called midazolam may be placed in your mouth to control your seizures quickly. In some circumstances another drug called diazepam may be given to you rectally (into the bottom), or a drug called lorazepam may be given to you through a tube into your vein.

  • It may be necessary to call an ambulance, depending on the circumstances and how you respond to the emergency medication. In particular, an ambulance may be needed if:

    • it's the first time you have needed emergency medication (as described above)

    • your seizures continue for more than 5 minutes after receiving emergency medication

    • you have a history of repeated or prolonged seizures that happen frequently, or

    • there is concern or difficulty checking your breathing and other vital signs.

If you have status epilepticus

A prolonged seizure or series of seizures when the person does not regain consciousness for 30 minutes or more is called 'status epilepticus'. Status epilepticus can occur with any type of seizure but if it occurs with convulsions ('convulsive status epilepticus') it is a medical emergency.

If you have convulsive status epilepticus then you will be treated in hospital. Healthcare professionals in the hospital should make sure that you can breathe properly, and should check that your heart is beating normally. You should also be given some oxygen and have your blood glucose levels checked. You should also be given some medication to try to stop your seizures.

If you keep going into status epilepticus

If you frequently go into status epilepticus, you and your specialist should discuss and draw up an individual treatment plan of what to do when this happens.

If there are no convulsions

Very occasionally someone can go into status epilepticus without convulsions. This isn't such a medical emergency. Medical advice should be sought but an ambulance is not usually needed.

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