A tonic-clonic seizure is what most people think of when they think of a seizure.

    Fast facts


    A tonic-clonic seizure lasting more than 5 minutes, or going from one seizure into another without recovering in between, is a medical emergency.

    What happens

    There are a range of symptoms during a tonic-clonic seizure. The seizure happens in 2 phases: the tonic phase, followed by the clonic phase.

    1. During the tonic phase:

    2. During the clonic phase:

    How people can help

    If you have tonic-clonic seizures

    It’s helpful for others to:

    It’s not helpful to:



    When to call an ambulance

    People should call for an ambulance if:



    How to help someone if they have a tonic-clonic seizure

    After the seizure

    Afterwards, you may have a headache or difficulty remembering what happened and feel tired or confused. You might want to sleep and it can take a few days to feel fully recovered.

    Sometimes people experience a temporary weakness or can’t move part of their body after a seizure. This is called Todd’s paresis or Todd’s paralysis. It can last from a few minutes to a few days before going away.

    Do something

    Keeping a seizure diary really helps people to understand their seizures better.

    What percentage of your seizures are you recording in a seizure diary?

    Go to the Seizures menu

    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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