Status epilepticus

    Status epilepticus (sometimes just called status) is seizure activity that lasts too long.

    Fast facts

    1. 1
      Most people with epilepsy have seizures that last a short time and stop by themselves
    2. 2
      When a seizure doesn’t stop in the usual time, or when seizures happen one after another without recovery in between, the person is in status epilepticus
    3. 3
      Status epilepticus can happen with any type of seizure
    4. 4
      Tonic-clonic status epilepticus always needs urgent treatment. It’s sometimes called convulsive status epilepticus
    5. 5
      If tonic-clonic status epilepticus lasts for 30 minutes or more it can cause permanent brain damage or even death
    6. 6
      Emergency medicine (sometimes called rescue medicine) may be prescribed for people at risk of status epilepticus. If you need emergency medicine a nurse or doctor will write a care plan for you so that it can be used correctly

    Treatment for status epilepticus

    Emergency medicine can be given by a family member, carer, teacher or colleague, as long as they have been trained in how to give it

    Ambulance staff sometimes carry emergency medicine so they can start treatment as soon as they arrive

    In hospital, there are a number of medicines that doctors can use to stop status epilepticus. They usually give these medicines by injection or drip

    There are 2 main types of emergency medicine licensed for use in the UK:

    When to call an ambulance

    1. 1
      You know it’s the persons first seizure OR
    2. 2
      The seizure continues for more than 5 minutes OR
    3. 3
      One seizure happens after another without recovering in between OR
    4. 4
      There is an injury needing urgent medical attention

    More info about status epilepticus on the Epilepsy Action website

    More info

    Epilepsy Action offer an online course in the administration of buccal midazolam

    More info
    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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