Status Epilepticus

This text is just an addition of larger article dedicated to epilepsy, which I recommend to read as well.


Status epilepticus is a deadly situation when the epileptic seizure lasts continuously for longer than 30 minutes or if it repeats in bouts following in rapid succession without regaining consciousness between the attacks.


The causes are identical to the causes of epilepsy. There are some damaged or irritated brain cells that may produce an epileptic seizure when triggered by an inducing stimulus (lack of sleep, alcohol, flashing lights, etc.).  Status epilepticus may occur in patients treated with epilepsy who suddenly stopped taking their anti-epileptic medication.


Status epilepticus has usually similar symptoms to a prolonged major epileptic seizure with muscle convulsions. The affected person loses consciousness and falls to the ground in convulsions. There are also forms with absence of convulsions, but they are no less dangerous. The prolonged seizure may cause elevation of body temperature above 38°C.


Status epilepticus is dangerous by its length. It may cause permanent brain damage, and respiratory arrest. Prolonged muscle spasms may cause serious muscle damage including the rhabdomyolysis. The entire state can result in a complete disruption of the internal environment including mineral imbalance and the subsequent failure of vital organs.


A person with diagnosed epilepsy should regularly take any medication prescribed by the doctor in both the right dosage and time. It is advisable to avoid alcohol, have enough sleep and avoid places with occurrence of flashing lights such as the discos.


The first aid includes removal of any nearby objects that may cause harm to the patients suffering from the seizure. Medical authorities should be called as quick as possible as the patient needs proper medical treatment. The pharmacotherapy includes high doses of, muscle relaxants and anti-epileptic drugs. All medications must be submitted intravenously or intramuscularly as the person is unable to take anything by mouth. Frequently, it is necessary to secure the airways by intubation and use the artificial lung ventilation. The fever is reduced by antipyretics or by physical means of cooling. It should be emphasized, however, that many cases of status epilepticus are either fatal or result in permanent brain damage despite the full therapy.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources