A seizure, which is sometimes known as a fit, can last for anything from a few seconds to several minutes. Possible seizure symptoms, which can vary in severity, include:
A seizure can happen to anyone at any age. One in 20 people have a seizure at some point in their life.
If you've had two or more seizures, you may have epilepsy – a condition affecting about one in every 100 people. Epilepsy is more likely to develop in childhood or over the age of 60. Although it can’t be cured, epilepsy can usually be managed.
In most cases, seizures can be controlled with medication.
Often, the exact reason for a seizure isn’t known, especially if it’s a one-off.
Epilepsy is a common cause of seizures but a seizure might also be due to:
There are several types of seizure, which have different symptoms, including:
Not all seizures are caused by abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Dissociative seizures, which are also known as non-epileptic seizures, can be caused by a range of factors. Possible causes of dissociative seizures include anxiety, panic attacks, diabetes and heart problems. Dissociative seizures require diagnosis and treatment from a consultant.
If someone’s had a seizure for over five minutes or they’ve failed to regain consciousness following a seizure, call 999.
Whether you’ve had one seizure or repeated seizures, see your GP as soon as possible. Your GP will ask about your seizure symptoms. If you’re unsure, take someone with you who witnessed what happened.
Your GP may recommend a range of investigations, including:
In some cases, your GP may refer you to a consultant for further assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
If you have epilepsy, your doctor will provide you with advice and information about living with this condition.
Medication can usually prevent or reduce the severity and/or frequency of seizure symptoms. Your doctor will recommend treatment after considering your type of seizure, overall health, age and any pregnancy plans.
Very rarely, your doctor may recommend surgery or implanting a special device to control electrical impulses to the brain.