Symptoms and Signs of Seizures Emergencies

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022

Doctor's Notes on Seizures Emergencies

Seizure emergencies are situations or problems related to seizures that need emergency care or intervention (Call 911 or take the patient to an emergency department). Signs and symptoms of seizure emergencies include

  • seizures that do not stop after a few minutes,
  • prolonged confusion post seizure (about 10-15 minutes),
  • not responsive after the seizure ends,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • injury during a seizure,
  • a first-time seizure, or
  • if the person is a known seizure patient, a major change in seizure activity that is unusual for the person.

Many times, the cause or trigger of a seizure is unknown. However, some triggers of seizures may include brain injury or trauma, brain tumors, brain infections, fever, drugs, alcohol, flashing lights, stress, and lack of sleep.

What Are the Emergency Treatments for Seizures?

The treatments listed are from recommendations set out by the Epilepsy Foundation for first aid for seizures:

  • Stay with person until he or she becomes awake and alert.
    • If possible, enlist help to time the seizure.
    • Check for medical ID (and medicines).
  • Keep the person safe (for example, get them off a street crossing).
  • Turn a person onto their side if they are not awake or aware.
    • Keep their airway clear.
    • Loosen tight clothing.
    • Rest their head on something soft.
  • Call 911 during the following circumstances:
    • First-time seizure
    • Breathing problems
    • Person is injured, sick, or pregnant.
    • Seizure occurred in water
    • Seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
    • Repeated seizures
    • Person does not become aware and awake
  • Do not restrain or put anything into their mouth.

In some situations, rescue medicines, if available, may be given if prescribed by a medical caregiver.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.