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How Long Does Status Epilepticus Last?

The state in which a seizure occurring to a person lasts long enough or when multiple seizure occurs one after the other at close intervals and there is no time for the person to recover from one seizure before he undergoes the next seizure attack is known as Status epilepticus. One of the very common neurologic disorders is status epilepticus. The crisis of epilepsy is acute and continues for a prolonged period of time. As an exacerbation of any kind of seizure disorder, which was pre-existing in the patient, status epilepticus can occur. Status epilepticus can be the initial manifestation of seizure disorder within a person. If the patient is known to suffer from epilepsy, there are medications to change the state and treat him or her unlike other seizures which spontaneously get terminate.

How Long Does Status Epilepticus Last?

Previously, that is many years ago the time for which the phase of status epilepticus lasted for 20 minutes. Over the years since the last few decades, the time length for which a seizure is considered to be status epilepticus has come down or shortened. In the present day, any seizure affecting a person for more than 5 minutes is considered to be status epilepticus. The time length has come down to the boundary of 5 minutes because usually a seizure occurs for 1 to 2 minutes. As the seizure or the state of person while going through a seizure increase in time, the chances of him or her recovering without medications also get lesser. Types of seizures like status epilepticus are very harmful for any person and can turn into a cause of death if not diagnosed in the early stage and treated and monitored accordingly.

What are the Categories of Status Epilepticus and How Long Do They Last?

  1. Convulsive Status Epilepticus

    The emergency situation arises due to repeated tonic-clonic or prolonged grand mal seizures. Even though tonic-clonic seizures usually end within 1 to 2 minutes, the after effects remain much longer. Convulsive status epilepticus occurs when:

    • The tonic-clonic seizure’s active part lasts for more than 5 minutes.
    • The patient undergoes into a second seizure without recovering or gaining consciousness from the first.
    • The seizures repeat over a periods or at least 30 minutes.

    Proper medical attention is required in order to avoid long term, life-threatening damages. A constant monitoring of EEG and oxygen support is required immediately if the person enter into convulsive status epilepticus. It is more dangerous for people suffering from brain infection and brain tumor.

  2. Non-convulsive Status Epilepticus

    • This state of seizure results in absence or impairs the focal awareness repeatedly.
    • A person lacks the ability to be totally aware of what is going on around him or her and enters into a state of confusion. Unlike a tonic-clonic seizure, he or she does not lose consciousness.
    • Such a situation is harder to identify. As the symptoms are more subtle or one can often fail to differentiate between the symptoms of it and the period of recovery, the recognition of non-convulsive status epilepticus becomes difficult than diagnosing conclusive seizures.
    • No proper time-frame or length of time can be measured during which one can address the situation to be a state of emergency. Depending on how long the person remains in this state, how often they occur and comparing to the time length of the person’s typical seizure state, one may suspect the matter to be non-convulsive status epilepticus.

    As soon as suspected, the patient must get emergency medical attention and a hospital setting for treatment. An EEG can confirm the type of seizure. This kind of seizure if not attended in time opens a risk factor of being attacked by convulsive status epilepticus too.


  1. Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). Status Epilepticus. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/status-epilepticus
  2. The University of Chicago Medicine. (n.d.). Status Epilepticus. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/neurosciences-articles/status-epilepticus
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Epilepsy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093
  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2021). Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Seizures-and-Epilepsy-Hope-Through
  5. Sutter Health – California Pacific Medical Center. (n.d.). Status Epilepticus (SE). https://www.sutterhealth.org/services/neurosciences/cpmc-status-epilepticus-se

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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