Length of Seizures

Updated on May 09, 2010
A.C. asks from Washington, PA
7 answers

hi i wrote yesterday about my 7 year old healthy little boy having a seizure in the middle of the night. my question is what is a normal length of time for one and how do you measure the time. is it from the time he begins seizing until he stops shaking or is it until he comes to and knows what is going on. the call to 911 was at 3:44, so i am estimating that the time it began was around 3:43, i then made a call to my parents and said that he just had a seizure that was at 4:00 give or take, at that point he wasnt seizing any more but he was still just staring at me, i carried him downstairs to wait for the ambulance and then he began crying. just trying to get some answers, i am so lost. he goes today for an eeg, so i just want to make sure that i have my details correct. thanks in advance!

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So What Happened?

thanks for everyones help and responses, i really appreciated each of them. we took my son to get an eeg on friday and it came back abnormal. they are thinking he has a condition called benign rolandic epilepsy which occurs in mostly boys ages 6-8 and they outgrow it by puberty. it affects them during them rem sleep cycle. he may never have another seizure but then again he may have one every night there is no way of knowing. we go to speak to a neurologist on wednesday to get some more answers. the tech at the eeg told me that the seizure is timed from the length that he is actually shaking, after effects are post and they last up to an hour, but the actually shaking should last only a few seconds- 10+minutes.

More Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm sorry you're going through this - I did this last summer with my younger daughter, and I know how scary it can be.
Seizures don't really have a "normal" time. My daughter has had a couple that were only maybe 30 seconds long. However, if they are 5 minutes or more, that can be a problem. You count from the time the person loses awareness until the actual seizing stops. Often, people will go to sleep afterward, and they can be disoriented and/or have a bad headache for a good while. Your neurologist should tell you what to expect.
Be prepared to wash his hair repeatedly after the eeg to get the goopy stuff out of it!



answers from Scranton on

There are different phases of a seizure. Measure how long he is shaking and how long is he out. Also note what is happening when he is skaking - does he arch his back, does anything come out of his mouth, does he lose control of his bladder/blowels. This information will help the neurologist determine what type of seizure he is having and help decide on the course of treatment. Also note if how he acts when he 'come out of it.' Is he emotional, scared, does he remember what happened. Does he remember what happened right before it happened, after (ask him this about an hour later).
Best of luck with this difficult situation.



answers from Detroit on

You start by noting the time he started acting weird or funny. Then you count again when he actually starts seizing, his eyes rolling back into his head, etc.
The staring is him in postictal state (post-seizure). You as the caregiver, need to just allow him to lay down & rest after an episode. Good for you for calling 911.



answers from Philadelphia on

I work with children who have seizure disorders and have them frequently. I believe it is when he begins and then snaps back to normal. I wish you luck and def take him to a neurologist if it happens again. Has this ever happened before?


answers from Dallas on

Hi A.,
It is so scary when your child has a seizure yet it is not uncommon. There are many different types of seizures but I am guessing your son had a tonic/clonic or grand mal seizure. Like the ones you see on t.v. Seizures times are different, but if they last less than 5 minutes you don't have to call an ambulance. You can just call your doctor. Afterwards it is very normal to be disoriented for awhile and very sleepy, but the seizure is over when the shaking stops.

The onset of fever can cause a febrile seizure. If your son is sick my guess is that he had a fever, but I would have him evaluated by a child neurologist all the same. Pediatricians are wonderful but they are not experts when it comes to seizures. Find yourself a specialist to be sure your son is being diagnosed appropriately. Medication may or may not be needed and a neurologist will know about al of them, and should give you some choices and explain side affects, etc... If this was a febrile (or related to fever) seizure then it is unlikely your son will need medication AND it is likely he will outgrow the seizures.

If you don't know it already then you should learn seizure first aid to protect your child and be sure teachers and babysitters are also aware. Here is a link: http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/firstaid

Let me know if I can help. My son has seizures, and though I'm no expert, I have experience and understand how hard it can be on Mom.




answers from Philadelphia on

Both my boys have had a febrile siezure. You start counting when they because disoriented and stare off. My older son's eyes didn't roll back but just glazed over. My younger son's eyes rolled back. Then once they stop flapping or shaking (one son flapped and the other had a slight shake), the seizure is over. My older son threw up at the end and younger son did not. Two very different experiences but both are fine now. My older son had all the testing being he was 4 when he had it which was a-typical. My younger son was 18 months are they just checked him out and sent him home. Both were sick with a fever at the time. Hope this helps. Good Luck.



answers from Savannah on

I meant to ask...did your son have fever before or after the seizure? I ask because my daughter suffers from typical and a-typical febrile seizures (meaning they are either fever induced or after the seizure subsides a fever develops). He may have been having a febrile seizure of some sort.
In relation to my daughters seizures (not sure if it's the same as epileptic or other types of seizures)...but there are warning signs she's about to have a seizure. She typically becomes disoriented, staring off into space, and unresponsive. This is the beginning and then she has the seizure (lips turn blue, skin becomes splotchy, she is rigid, biting down hard, eyes in the back of her head, etc). The seizure usually lasts 3 minutes or so. Only once has she hada prolonged seizure (out of the 10+ she's had). And that lasted 15 minutes, stopped, and then started again for another 15 minutes until the ER doctors administered antiseziure meds.
It can feel like an eternity of course...especially when they are blue. The good news about febrile seizures is they are harmless (other than they stress you out and scare the child).
In the event he has another seizure...best thing to do is for you to remain calm (I know near impossible...but do your best because he is aware of what's going on around him and you freaking out will scare him more). Lay him on his side and let the seizure take its course. After the seizure he will probably be out of it for about an hour or so. My daughter tends to pass out and then she's sort of out of it and spacey for a while and then needy the rest of the day but this is because it's a scary experience to a child.
Good luck with the eeg today.

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