You may want to ask people to tell you how long your seizures last. It will help your doctor to know if you have seizures which last a long time or happen one after another.
Some people with epilepsy have very long seizures that cannot be stopped without emergency medication. These may be called:
- Status epilepticus when a seizure lasts for 30 minutes or more.
- Cluster seizures where seizures occur one after another without recovery in between.
If these seizures are convulsive seizures (tonic-clonic) urgent treatment with emergency medication will be needed to stop the seizures. NICE guidelines recommend that emergency medication is started 5 minutes after a person first goes into prolonged seizures or if they have 3 or more convulsive seizures in an hour.
The International League Against Epilepsy's (ILAE) working group on Status Epilepticus has recommended a new definition for this type of seizure emergency. This definition recognises the need for a shorter time period (5 minutes) when prolonged seizure(s) should be recognised and action taken, but also keeps the longer time frame (30 minutes) for a seizure to help recognise when a prolonged seizure leads to poor outcomes.
Early treatment in the community can stop a long seizure or a run of seizures. Health professionals can give you a plan which may include:
- Epilepsy rescue medications which are used to prevent status epilepticus developing.
- Advise others what to do when you have seizures and when to call the emergency services.
Specialist information is available from Epilepsy Society on emergency medications.