A seizure is not normally a medical emergency and the vast majority of seizures stop by themselves without the need for any treatment. However sometimes a medical emergency known as status epilepticus can occur.
This is defined as any seizure involving unconsciousness lasting for 30 minutes or longer; or repeated seizures lasting for 30 minutes in total from which the person does not regain consciousness between each seizure.
Although any type of seizure may develop into status epilepticus, generalised tonic clonic seizures progressing into status epilepticus are the most serious.
The longer a seizure continues, the harder it is to stop. So best practice is to treat a generalised tonic clonic seizure with emergency medication after five minutes. This is also known as rescue medication.
Epilepsy emergency medication may be prescribed if a child has previously experienced a seizure that has lasted for five minutes or more. An action plan should be agreed with the doctor so that you know what to do in an emergency situation. This should be shared with the child’s school and staff who will administer the medication need to be trained to do so.
Emergency drugs have an anticonvulsant effect and can stop seizures. Midazolam and Diazepam are the two most commonly used.
NB Young Epilepsy are currently reviewing our information portfolio which will be updated in October 2023.