A seizure is a sudden abnormal electrical signal in the brain. A partial seizure can involve part of the brain, and a generalized seizure usually involves all areas of the brain. It can cause strange sensations and behavior, muscle spasms, and a change in or loss of consciousness.
Generalized seizures are further divided into 2 types of seizures based on the pattern of the attack:
Grand mal seizure: a generalized seizure that starts with a loss of consciousness and falling down, followed by a brief period of rigid muscles and a 1- to 2-minute period of violent, rhythmic jerking. The seizure ends with a few minutes of deep sleep before you return to consciousness.
Absence or petit mal seizure: a short period of staring, fluttering eyelids, or twitching of facial muscles. There is no loss of consciousness.
One seizure right after another or one long seizure is called status epilepticus. The symptoms are usually those of a grand mal seizure. This can be life threatening and is treated as a medical emergency.
Often the cause of seizures or the abnormal electrical signals in the brain is not known. If you have repeated seizures, your healthcare provider may diagnose seizure disorder, which is also called epilepsy.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
How long it takes to get better depends on the cause of your seizure, your treatment, your overall health, and any complications you may have. It is not possible to know how long seizures will be a problem for any one person. Absence seizures often stop by the time you are an adult. You may continue to have other types of seizures. Depending on the type of seizures you have and how often you have them, you may need to make lifestyle changes to help prevent them in the future.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to. Never stop taking your medicine without first checking with your provider.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Depending on the cause of your seizure, your provider may prescribe medicines to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Control your blood sugar
Decrease swelling in the brain and around the spinal cord
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.
Talk to your provider about any special considerations if you are a woman who takes medicines to prevent seizures and you get pregnant.
Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes
Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
To help prevent further seizures:
Get plenty of rest while youâ€™re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting too little sleep can be a major cause of seizures if you have a seizure disorder.
Avoid mood-altering drugs, including stimulants and sedatives.
If you start to develop a fever, treat it right away as recommended by your provider.
Eat a healthy diet.
Exercise as your provider recommends.
Find ways to make your life less stressful.
Carry an ID card or bracelet that says you have seizures, in case of an emergency.
If your seizures are not well controlled, avoid high-risk sports such as skiing and scuba diving. Ask your healthcare provider which sports are safe for you.
Avoid high-risk jobs that involve heavy or fast-moving equipment, heights, bodies of water, or other situations where you or others might be injured if you have a seizure.
Ask your healthcare provider if or when you may safely drive a car. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for rules about reporting a history of seizures.
Tell your family, friends, and coworkers what they should do if you have a seizure. This includes:
Loosening clothing around your neck
Moving things away from you to avoid injury
Not holding you down. If possible, they should roll you onto your left side and gently hold you there.
Not putting anything in your mouth. They should check to make sure you are breathing.
Not moving you during a seizure, unless there is danger of injury
After the seizure is over, letting you rest while you wake up
Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:
Seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes or you have one seizure after another
Trouble waking up after a seizure has stopped
Seizure after a head injury
Loss of bladder or bowel control
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Side effects from your medicine, such as nausea, dizziness, and mental changes, such as hallucinations
Seizures that are different, such as happening more often or lasting longer
Seizures that continue to happen even when you are taking your medicine correctly
Hallucinations, which may be visual or involve other senses such as hearing, touching, tasting or seeing something that is not really there
Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-07-30 Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Seizure Discharge Information: References
Rosen, P., & Marx, J. A. (2014). Rosen’s emergency medicine: concepts and clinical practice. (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.
Jagoda A & Gupta K (2011) The Emergency Department Evaluation of the Adult Patient Who Presents with a First-Time Seizure Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, 2011-02-01, Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 41-49