In the event of an epileptic attack, be sure to call an emergency doctor after five minutes

Prevent consequential damage: Call an emergency doctor if epileptic seizure persists
Epilepsy is the most common chronic central nervous system disorder. It affects women and men equally. Today, the disease can be treated well with medication, but the risk of seizures remains. If the attack persists, the emergency doctor must be called.

Significant risk of injury
Around 0.8 percent of the population worldwide has epilepsy. It is the most common chronic central nervous system disorder. The seizures that occur again and again represent a considerable risk of injury and should definitely be clarified medically. If an epileptic seizure persists, the patient must be given immediate clinical care. This is indicated by the professional association of German neurologists (BDN) on its portal "".

Epileptic seizures usually resolve on their own
According to the experts, the majority of epileptic seizures subside after a short time - usually within a maximum of three minutes. However, if an attack lasts longer, there may be a so-called status epilepticus, which can be life-threatening if it is not treated. Then bystanders should call an ambulance at 112.

“If an epileptic seizure is accompanied by loss of consciousness, cramping or twitching of the extremities and lasts longer than five minutes, it must be treated clinically immediately. This also applies to “simple” seizures without loss of consciousness, as well as several seizures or impaired consciousness that occur for more than 20 to 30 minutes, ”advises Dr. Curt Beil from BDN.

“In this situation, the regulation of vital bodily functions such as breathing, blood pressure or body temperature can be impaired and thus be life-threatening. Emergency medical care can interrupt the status of epilepticus and prevent consequential damage, ”says the doctor.

Be sure to have medical clarification
However, not every seizure with an impaired consciousness is an epileptic seizure. Similar events can also occur as part of a cardiovascular misfire - a syncope - or can be psychogenic.

In principle, recurring disorders of consciousness or seizures pose a significant risk of injury and should be medically clarified in order to rule out epilepsy or other diseases or to have them treated if necessary.

“There is a better case for an epileptic seizure if the person concerned has their eyes open during this time, cannot remember anything afterwards and is still confused up to half an hour after the seizure. Typically, epileptic seizures also follow a clear pattern, in which the affected person first tenses and then shows synchronous twitches in the arms and legs, ”explains Dr. Ax.

Risk factors for seizures
Epileptic seizures can be triggered, among other things, by overstimulation of the brain, for example when playing computer games or by flickering light. Deprivation of sleep, rapid breathing, nicotine, alcohol and stress are also possible factors.

According to the BDN, those who have epileptic seizures are unable to drive a motor vehicle as long as there is a risk of repeated seizures. Even in the period of medical clarification, affected persons should not be behind the wheel until the medical doctor has assessed the suitability for driving.

As the experts explain, the occurrence of an epileptic seizure is based on a temporary simultaneous excitation of nerve cell networks in certain brain areas. This overreaction is due to the fact that the brain's regulatory messengers are out of balance. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Status Epilepticus on the Pediatric Ward by Nadeen Abujaber for OPENPediatrics (November 2021).