Status epilepticus

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Status epilepticus is a serious form of seizure. With this form, it does not stop, or one episode occurs after another without allowing time for the individual to recover.

This is considered as an extreme form of epilepsy or a characteristic of a serious brain disorder such as a stroke or brain tissue inflammation.

What are the causes?

Some individuals who have status epilepticus have epilepsy. It typically occurs if the condition is not properly managed with medications.

Most cases affect children below 15 years old especially young children with high fever as well as adults over 40 years with stroke.

Other potential causes include:

  • Head injuries
  • Low blood sugar
    Status epilepticus
    Checking the temperature of a child is the only definitive method of determining whether a child has a fever.
  • HIV
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Drug or alcohol use

What are the types?


The convulsive type is considered as the common variant which arises if the individual has an extended or repeated episode of tonic-clonic seizures.

This occurs if:

  • Tonic-clonic seizure continues for 5 minutes or even longer
  • Individual experiences another seizure before fully recovering from the first episode
  • Repeated seizures occur for 30 minutes or longer


With this type of status epilepticus, it occurs when:

  • The individual has prolonged or recurrent absence or focal impaired awareness seizures
  • The individual might be perplexed or unaware of what is going on but not unconscious

The signs are difficult to recognize than the convulsive form.

Management of status epilepticus

The treatment for status epilepticus is based on whether the individual is managed at home or in a healthcare facility.

Initial line of treatment

If a seizure is treated at home, the following must be considered:

  • The head must be protected
  • Move the individual away from any danger
  • Resuscitate as needed
  • If trained to do so, emergency medication can be given such as midazolam or diazepam

Medical care

The initial line of treatment in a healthcare facility involves:

  • High-concentration of oxygen followed by intubation
  • Assessment of respiratory and cardiac function
  • Intravenous lorazepam or diazepam to suppress seizure activity

Status epilepticus is considered as a medical emergency and require medical care.

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