Any parent watching their child have an epileptic seizure can tell you that even the shortest seizure seems to last forever. In the case of a seizure that goes on for an abnormally long time, the term “status epilepticus” applies. This adds another layer of anxiety for both the parents and the patient.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the vast majority of seizures last less than two minutes. Years ago, the criteria for a status epilepticus was 20 minutes. That’s changed.
Today, that time frame has been trimmed to five minutes. It’s important to note that this type of seizure is dangerous and should be identified as quickly as possible so treatment can begin.
Here’s what you should look for if you’re a parent:
- A tonic-clonic seizure lasts more than five minutes
- The patient has a second seizure before recovering consciousness from the first seizure
- The patient has repeated seizures for a half hour or longer
If you observe any of these signs, you should seek medical care immediately.
Approximately one in 26 people will develop a seizure during their lifetime, so being aware of status epilepticus may be important information, even if you don’t have a child with epilepsy or you don’t have it yourself.
If you would like to learn more about epilepsy, or different seizure types, click here.