When is a Seizure a Medical Emergency

When to Go to the ER

Oct 14, 2022


When is a seizure a medical emergency? Anybody that has witnessed a seizure can attest to their sudden and frightening nature. However, not all seizures are the same, and not all seizures require emergency room care. If the person has never had a seizure before or the seizure lasts five minutes or longer, call 911 immediately for help. 

In this article, we will cover when seizure emergency treatment is necessary and when it is not so that you can be better prepared in these situations. 

What is a seizure?

Seizures are uncontrolled, rapid changes in the electrical activity in the brain that often lead to convulsions and loss of consciousness. Seizure symptoms in adults can include but are not limited to:

  • Confusion
  • Convulsions 
  • Nausea
  • Vision changes
  • Muscle contractions
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tingling skin
  • Sweating
  • Unconsciousness 

If someone is suffering from seizures, the cause and severity of the types of seizures can vary. For example, a diabetic seizure can be triggered by low blood sugar.

When should you go to the ER for a seizure?

Now that we have discussed what causes seizures, it’s important to know what to do when someone is having a seizure nearby. People living with epilepsy and the seizures involved may be able to recover from a seizure without intervention from emergency health professionals. However, some require that you seek medical attention. These include:

  • The person has never had a seizure before
  • The person has another seizure soon after the first one
  • The seizure lasts five minutes or longer
  • The person has difficulty breathing or waking after the seizure
  • The person is hurt during the seizure
  • The seizure happens in water
  • The person has a health condition like diabetes, heart disease, or is pregnant
  • The person is experiencing shortness of breath

When it comes to seizures, time is of the essence. Do not hesitate to call 911, even if the situation does not seem dire. It’s better to get them unnecessary help than to ignore an emergency situation. If a loved one suffers from seizures, ask them if their physician has given them a treatment plan for you to follow. 

First aid for all types of seizures

There are different types of seizures, but there are a few general guidelines to follow if someone around you is having a seizure.

Step 1: Do not leave the person alone. Loosen any tight clothing they might be wearing and put something soft underneath their head. 

Step 2: Move any objects out of the way to protect them from injury. If they have anything in their mouth (food or fluid), roll them onto their side to prevent choking. Check to see if the person is wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information.

Step 3: Stay with the person until the seizure ends and he or she is fully awake. After it ends, help the person sit in a safe place. Comfort them and explain calmly what just occurred. If they need help getting home, assist them. 

In these situations, it’s important to stay calm and to keep others around you calm. If you’re monitoring the situation and notice any of the emergency signs we listed before, call 911 immediately and wait for medical help.

Have you or a loved one had a seizure? Complete Care is here to help.

Asking yourself “When is a seizure a medical emergency?” is the first step in making an informed decision for yourself or a loved one experiencing a seizure. We highly encourage you to call 911 first before going to an emergency room. The medical professionals at Complete Care are fully equipped to handle any emergency, but seizures may require immediate medical attention that a paramedic can provide faster. 

If you or a loved one are having complications after a seizure, the emergency physicians at Complete Care can help you to identify any problems and come up with a preventative plan. With locations across Texas and Colorado Springs, we are here to take complete care of you.

More Helpful Articles by Complete Care: