Status Epilepticus

Status epilepticus is a condition in which a person has an abnormally prolonged seizure or does not fully regain consciousness between seizures. Generally, any seizure lasting longer than five minutes should be treated as if it were this condition; a person experiencing a seizure for more than five minutes should be taken to an emergency room immediately.

What Is Status Epilepticus?

Status epilepticus is a potentially life-threatening condition in which a person either has an abnormally prolonged seizure or does not fully regain consciousness between seizures. Although there is no strict definition for the time at which a seizure turns into status epilepticus, most people agree that any seizure lasting longer than five minutes should, for practical purposes, be treated as though it were status epilepticus.
 

Status Epilepticus and Nonconvulsive Seizures

People in status epilepticus do not always have severe convulsive seizures. Instead, they may have repeated or prolonged nonconvulsive seizures. This type of status epilepticus may appear as a sustained episode of confusion or agitation in someone who does not ordinarily have that kind of mental impairment. While this type of episode may not seem as severe as convulsive status epilepticus, it should still be treated as an emergency.
 

Treatment Options

While most seizures do not require emergency medical treatment, a person experiencing a prolonged seizure lasting more than five minutes may be in status epilepticus and should be taken to an emergency room immediately.
 
It is important to treat a person with status epilepticus as soon as possible. One study showed that 80 percent of people in status epilepticus who received medication within 30 minutes of seizure onset eventually stopped having seizures, whereas only 40 percent recovered if two hours had passed before they received medication.
 
Doctors in a hospital setting can treat this type of seizure with several different drugs and can undertake emergency life-saving measures, such as administering oxygen, if necessary.
 
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