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Common and less common experiences after a seizure

Our Communication Officer, David Coates looks at the common and less common experiences after a seizure.

Time for another myth buster! Recovering from a seizure can take time, even if the person hasn’t injured themselves.

It’s not a case of ‘seizure over, get up and go’. Every person has a different recovery time, and this of course also depends on their type of seizure(s).

Some people come round from a seizure fairly quickly, but full recovery will take time. It can take anything from several hours to several days before the person feels ‘normal’ again.

This blog looks at some of the most common experiences after a seizure.


Post-ical phase

The medical term for the time immediately after a seizure is called the post-ictal phase.

Common symptoms during this phase include confusion, tiredness, headaches, slurred speech, feeling sick, or mood changes. People often want to sleep or be in a quiet place.

Periods of confusion can last from a few minutes up to an hour. The person may be able to talk and answer questions during this period, but they might not remember this.

They might also be able to perform tasks such as undressing and going to bed but will not necessarily remember doing so.

Occasionally people might feel out of sorts for a few days before feeling back to normal again.

Speaking gently to a person after a seizure and explaining what has happened while they are still confused will provide reassurance and can help reorientate the person.


Post-ictal psychosis

Post-ictal psychosis is rare and only happens to a small number of people whose epilepsy is not controlled by medication.

It is more common in those who experience clusters of tonic-clonic seizures. Post-ictal psychosis can appear within a few days, and up to a week, after seemingly having recovered from a seizure.

Psychosis is a medical term used when someone loses touch with reality. There is an initial recovery period after a seizure (the lucid phase) where the person seems to be recovering well.

After the recovery period the person may start to experience delusions, hallucinations, or unusual behaviour. These are often paranoid or fearful.

This is called post-ictal psychosis. This can last days or even weeks.

Always seek immediate medical advice if this applies to you or someone you care for.


Todd’s paresis or post-ictal paralysis

Very occasionally people can experience a period of paralysis after a seizure.

This can be a weakness, loss of movement and/or numbness. It usually occurs on one side of the body and can last from a few minutes to 48 hours.

It can also affect speech, vision and hearing sometimes causing a temporary inability to hear, see or speak.

The symptoms of Todd’s paresis can be very similar to that of a stroke.

Always seek urgent medical advice if you experience any of these symptoms to rule out a stroke.

If you have any concerns about symptoms after a seizure, contact your GP, epilepsy specialist nurse or consultant for medical advice, or phone NHS24 on 111 out of hours.