Thursday, April 19, 2007

Recovery from a Seizure

How long does it take to recover from a tonic-clonic (gran mal) seizure?

I believe the time varies by person, but in my case, it has changed with medicines, VNS treatment, and age. I first started having seizures when I was 12, I think that first tonic-clonic seizure was strong enough that I slept the entire day... maybe part of the next one as well. As one typically falls down when having a tonic-clonic seizure, recovery time depends a lot on what you hit and where. Those times when I have banged my head up very badly, it took longer to recover - if only because the physical wounds have to heal. Of course, if you fall hard enough on your head, you can get a concussion and that can increase the recovery time as well.

Further complicating things is the intensity of the seizure. Before I got my VNS, tonic-clonic seizures always caused me to stop breathing for as much as 4 minutes. After about a half-year of VNS treatment, when I have had a tonic-clonic seizure, I don't stop breathing. I think this has reduced my recovery time dramatically. So, I think I would have to put recovery time into 4 different categories:

Pre VNS Tonic-Clonic with head injury:
A few hours just to regain coherent speech & though. Time at hospital or with icepack on bruises. At least a full day of sleep and maybe another couple to rest.

Pre VNS Tonic-Clonic without head injury:
A couple hours to regain coherent speech & thought. A day of sleep.

Post VNS Tonic-Clonic with head injury but no cessation of breathing:
A half hour to regain coherent speech & thought. Time at hospital or with icepack on bruises. Extra sleep needed - at least a few hours of sleep after the seizure.

Post VNS Tonic-Clonic without head injury or cessation of breathing:
A half hour to regain coherent speech & thought. Extra sleep needed - at least a few hours of sleep after the seizure.

Now, as a side-note. A few months ago, I had a tonic-clonic seizure and hit my head, but not too bad as I was sitting at a table and did not have far to fall. I did not stop breathing and was able to stand up after perhaps 20 minutes. I did not feel too bad, but I took a nap for a few hours and then got up and was active for the rest of the day. But, the next morning I had another tonic-clonic seizure - I believe because I did not rest enough after the one from the previous day. So, last week, I had a tonic-clonic seizure and I made sure that I slept much more and rested for the next 2 days.

As a further side note, I will probably have to revise the post after my family reads it and tells me the times are wrong. See, that is the other thing, I remember very little from the days when I have tonic-clonic seizures.


Anonymous said...

My son Jacob was 21 and had never had a seizure. One evenine he had a grand mal seizure. About 30 seconds into the seizure he stopped breathing. Within a minute he was purple. I breathed into him through his clenched teeth. He started breathing again after approx 31/2 minutes, right before ambulance got there. Hospital did normal tests and stated that 2% of adults have 1 seizure and are fine, never have another one. They ignored an abnormal ekg. My son had another seizure 12 weeks later that we did not witness. We found him dead in the bathroom. Autopsy said he needed a heart transplant. Just want people to know who have a first time seizure to MAKE the doctors find out WHY, not say your fine unless you really are. Thank you

metalrulz4ever said...

Hi, my name is Becky, im 34 I have what I believe to be photosensitive epilepsy. I've been looking on md sites for people that I could relate to and I think your blog comes pretty close. I've had seizures since I was about 13 or 14, I remember sleeping for 2 days at a time, thinking it was a bad flu.....maybe that's what caused it, no one knows. But I have tonic clonic seizures 1 about every year I could almost put it on the calender. I have to take 400mg a day of phenytoin. I can't play video games or drive I can't even go into haunted houses with my kids cause of strobe lights. I have that AURAthing where things get all swimmy and time seems to speed up, sound gets distorted, before I seize and I know I have about 1 min at best to call ambulance......cause I stop breathing too and turn blue. My seizures have gotten worse with each one, some are real scary , but this last one I had last week was different. I was calm and didn't panic I got to watch it travel down my arm.......shook bad and I heard amblance and I was out. But the reason im writing is, its been a week and I don't feel normal im missing something I have a weird fuzzyness in my head. It usually only takes me 2 days at best to get back to normal with no symptoms. I was out of work for one day...but I had to go to work so I couldn't recoop like I guess I should concentration comes and goes in waves....and im sick to my stomach a lot like a nervousness tummy. And for about 2 days after I seized I had the worst vertigo that lasted a whole day and 1/2 I've never been dizzy that long ever. Did I fry something??? U think??? Thank u for reading if u do, just wanted to talk to someone that understands me. Thanx

metalrulz4ever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emeriol said...

Hi Becky! Thanks for visiting my blog. Sounds like you have had a rough time with your seizures. I can't really tell why you haven't gotten back to "normal". Have you tried any other drugs besides the phenytoin? I have had to try probably 10 different types of drugs before finding some that worked even remotely well.

I'm sorry I did not write back earlier. I don't keep track of comments as well as I should. If you are interested in chatting with people about epilepsy. I strongly recomend Epilepsy.Com. They have community blogs and message boards... with just about every type of epilepsy you can imagine.

I hope you start feeling better soon!

Anonymous said...

My husband had a seizure, a grand mal seizure at age 42. His speech and everything improved within 20-30 minutes later. He acted like he was okay, although he slept for a couple of days. What is odd though, is that his memory was gone and even now, a year later, he has trouble with memory. He looses his "train of thought" often and forgets what he is talking about, or he will do things and two days later forget that it was done. He is aware of this. 6 months after his seizure I could look back and notice his health has improved. FOr instance, he was very SLOW when he would walk and talk and respond to people and conversations. At the time, I did not connect it with the seizure, but now that time has went on, I don't know what else it could of been. Although the doctor said he is fine, we think it was a heat stroke.

Anonymous said...

hi i am 27 and had my first seizure when i was 20 and thankfully have been seizure free for 3 1/2 years.
i stop breathing when i have my seizures. I am on 400mg of phenytoin per day and take 1 to 2 days to recover from my seizures, on one ocassion my heart also stopped. My only recollections of the days i have had seizures has been when i woke up, apart from that i lose the whole day, i remember paramedics asking me questions and responding but no visual.
I find that my short term memory is fried and i at times slur my speach or mix up my words.I also find my self to be absent on many occasions.
I have had all the neuro testing and scans for epilepsy and although they came back negative i am still told i am epileptic.
I interested to hear of other people in a similar situation

Anonymous said...

Hi my brother is 22 and has had a seizure before but hasnt had one for 6 years now...I must admit he has been abusing Xanax a perscribed drug for the past month taken up to 5 to 6 a day...and recently he had stopped because we told him he was getting out of line and I was just wondering if maybe because he hasnt been taken them that maybe his brain isnt used to it...another note is that he had a brain hemerage about 6 weeks ago...What should i do?

Emeriol said...

You should probably get your brother to see a neurologist to diagnose his seizure to determine if it was caused by the drug abuse, the brain hemorage, or if he has epilepsy. I wish you the best of luck.

Fei said...

I am studying Epilepsy for a school disease report and this really helped. I think this is a cool way to share your thoughts and feelings about epilepsy.


michoacana99 said...

Hello my mom just has a seizure on 12/12/10 that lasted about an hr. She does have Dememthia an Alzheimer. She still hasnt recover at all and cant talk. I'm sooo worried about her. Is that normal. Will she talk again. Crying :(
Thank you!

Emeriol said...

I understand from my research that people can begin to have seizures as they age. I suppose simply from the aging of the neurons - perhaps they begin to fire abnormally. I cannot diagnose your mother, and I haven't come accross anyone who has quit speaking due to seizures. I suspect only a Neurologist would be able to diagnose and assist. I wish you well and pray for a speedy recovery for your mother.

michoacana99 said...

Hello my mom just has a seizure on 12/12/10 that lasted about an hr. She does have Dememthia an Alzheimer. She still hasnt recover at all and cant talk. I'm sooo worried about her. Is that normal. Will she talk again. Crying :(
Thank you!

Amanda-Beth said...

I am 26 I have had vareity of seizures for about for or 5 years though probably thinking back did have myoclonic and simple partials growing up but I'm very frustrated with my primary Dr he dosent want to reffer me to Nero or put me on a script something about not wanting to mess up other issues at first he tried to ignore it. I was told at er few years ago they were seizures they do help me when I go in status but not much else they can do we are in small country town in north east IN they say the Nero can help but only Nero in area won't see me with out refferal from primary Dr who won't give me one. I'm on Medicaid so switching Drs is near impossible not that much of choice up here in primary drs. I sorta understand his concern but when I wake and don't remember day or two before nd know I should nd have extra pain I don't want I want to literally knock sense into him

Scott Geyer said...

Amanda-Beth, has your primary doctor put you on any anti-seizure medications at all?

Jenny said...

hello, on 3/13/12 my mother karen had a grand mal seizure in Wawa. she had never had one before and i was extremely horrified. she is 40 years old, and they have not found a cause yet on why it happened. it has been 7 days now since it happened and she is still not feeling good. she gets dizzy spells,memory loss, hot and cold sweats, and is constantly falling asleep without warning. the doctors said she has an extreme concussion, could that be the reason for all of these symptoms? and after someone has a grand mal seizure how long does it take for them to fully recover? i am worried and need answers. she has not seen a neurologist yet, but they did ekg, eeg, ct scan, and a mri while in the hospital. all came back fine as we know of. if anyone can help or answer my questions it would be greatly appreaciated. thank you!

Scott Geyer said...

Concussions can cause one to develop Epilepsy, the condition of having re-occuring seizures. Hopefully your mother is simply having some bad side effects from the concussion. The only way to tell the difference is to get an EEG and have it examined by a Neurologist. I wish you and your mother the best.

kmyn1925 said...

ok, so i have 35 yrs experience of seizures. nothing surprises me anymore, until this. been working outside all summer and last week i think i had heat exhaustion. i don't sweat and it is hard for me to tell when i get too hot. well i passed out and did a faceplant, taking all the force on my chin. a week later and i still have pretty bad vertigo and double vision. does anyone know what this is? i didn't think of concussion till this morning. could it be heat exhaustion along with a concussion? its never taken me this long to recover before and i would any thoughts as to why.

Scott Geyer said...

@kmyn1925, although I am not a Dr, I would think that it is highly likely that you had a concussion. If you are still having side effects related to the fall, I would contact your dr. and see if you can get an MRI to see if there is anything more serious going on, such as internal bleeding. Good luck!

red said...

I've just come back from having six seizures. One after the other. Ive spent three days tied to the hospital bed via my private parts, and still need to rest some more. I had the seizures because I was getting off kepra, because I was thinking about having children. I hope god stays on my side my family have been through a lot these past few days. Anonymous one I'm sorry for your loss. Im gonna keep the faith alive and stay positive no matter what, I'm gonna trust god with everything in my being. Epilepsy is a tough thing to deal with, but I believe if your weak in adversity your weak in deed. There are so many times epilepsy the side effects of the medications I was on, so many things I let get to me. This year though I'm gonna stay positive.

Blessed_Mommy_&_Wife said...

Hello -
My name is Kristin. I've been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 10, and had been diagnosed with Tonic-Clonic seizures around 12. Although they only happened in REM sleep, at night, in conjunction with low blood sugars, I was placed on Depakote for years after a sleep-EEG came back abnormal, and around 16, I had been weaned off of it, as my EEG came back normal and we had discussed the damage being on it would do if I'd planned on having children later in life. I was fine for years, up until I was around 23, and had my first daughter. After my stressful delivery, ending with C-section, and my hormones being an uber-mess, about 4 months after, I had my first grand mal seizure that my husband had ever witnessed. He freaked, and called 911. It resulted in another Neurologist visit, but I disagreed with them putting me on more medication without another EEG to back up the return of seizures, rather than a 1 time occurrence due to stress/hormones. Fast forward 5 grand-mal seizure free years to 2013. I find I am depressed, have been in some form of denial for the last 21 years, and my regular MD places me on Zoloft and another anti-depressant with sleep aid. I also wind up having a sinus infection, so am on Z-pack. All these new medications, and after a 2nd baby (little boy, August 2012), I go to a pool party for one of my daughters friends in 90 degree weather, around Mom's I've never had the chance to share my history with - and never felt the need to - and BAM, my blood sugar plummets, I'm dehydrated, and I have my first grand-mal seizure in broad daylight ever - which they all thought was just "low blood sugar attack". My Endocrinologist said I can absolutely have seizures from low blood sugars, but this one was different than ones I've had while awoken by low blood sugar in the middle of the night. 4 days later, I've slept for the last few days A LOT, and feel like everything is surreal - and was told at hospital to "follow up with MD", and they didn't document ANYTHING about me having a seizure, and just put down "Hypoglycemia (functional)". My memory is slowly returning, and I know I've felt "strange" when my blood sugar has been on its way down in the middle of supermarkets - around their fluorescent lighting, and I high-tail it out of the store, drop everything, and usually am able to avoid any seizure by putting my pump on suspend and grabbing something to get my sugar up. I know I don't feel "normal". I'm going to follow up with my MD, and tell him everything - but I'm afraid all of the anti-depressants and new medications - on top of dehydration and low sugar, all attributed to this recent seizure. I do not want this to continue, and feel like the medical "professionals" I dealt with at the hospital were everything but. What do I tell my MD? Do I make a follow-up with my old Neurologist, or a new one and start fresh? I'm beyond overwhelmed with caring for my two children, (I've been a SAHM for the last year), and am freaking out at the possibility of having seizures pop up again so many years later. Advice? I feel so "out of it" and scared!

Scott Geyer said...

@ Blessed Mommy
Sounds like you are having a very rough time right now. The best advice I can give you is to head over to and get on one of their Forums or chats and find some other people going through the same situation. Although I have lived with Epilepsy for a long time, I haven't experienced it though pregnancy and diabetes. One other thing, try to get your sleep and nutrition on a steady schedule. You are really going to have to watch that. I have a similar condition that when my sugar drops I loose the ability to think well and have to get sugar and protein fast. I try to make sure that I am eating throughout the day and eating foods like oats in the morning and proteins throughout the day. I also take medications for my thyroid. I wish you the best.

Karen Medcalf said...

Hi, I like to call myself a 'professional' epileptic, my body and brain cells well trained in tonic clonic seizures. Despite taking nearly every anti-epileptic drug cocktail possible my seizures have never been controlled, but normally I do recover quite well afterwards, a snooze and a few hours to regather my memory. But, I had a seizure last week that has knocked me off my feet, a week later I am still struggling with balance, trembling and drifting away when I try to focus on one thing.The only strange thing about this seizure was that it was nocturnal, whereas mine are always during the day and I normally clonk my head, I didn't this time! Unexplainable epilepsy!

Scott Geyer said...

@Karen Metcalf
Wow, I don't recall having ever had a nocturnal seizure, but I would not doubt that I have had one. I have been on nearly every combination of medicine as well. Currently I am having success with Vimpat and Keppra. Very expensive, but... what are you going to do...
I am looking forward to Cannibis Oil becoming legal. Perhaps in the next few years it will become available for epilepsy use.

Francesca Mcniel said...

How my daughter was saved from grand mal seizure.
I am not really a fan of sharing my personal private story on the internet but i decided to do this because this joy is too voluminous for me to hide. My daughter which i took over 8 years after marriage to conceive had her first seizure at age 6 and ever since then it has been from one seizure to another in school, in church, at picnics. This got me worried because she has a bright future that i do not want epilepsy to become a hindrance, i tried several doctors in Texas and none could help with an effective cure. I went on the internet and saw testimonies about a treatment for epilepsy which a doctor offered and i was interested, i got in contact with him and i was able to get the medicine for my daughter which she used for 3 months as he instructed and it has been over 6 months now she is doing just fine without any allergies or aftermath effects. If you are suffering problem try to reach him too on ( i can count on him for a cure for you too.

Peter Emmily said...

I myself have epilepsy. Not to this extreme with grand mail seizures daily, but it still affects me in other ways daily. I am on medicine, which has slowly stopped working and I notice my twitches, blank stares, and memory loss (even in the midst of a sentence) starting to return. The side effects of this drug is noticeable and painful to deal with. It is so strong that if a normal person were to take my dose, they will die of an overdose.when i was going through the internet i come across Owens post thanking Dr Lewis hill for curing his seizure problem, and i got the contact of Dr Lewis hill and i quickly contacted him then he made me to know that the medication is 100% cure, and that was how i got the medicine which i used, after which i went for medical test It worked! Over a year now, i have not show any symptoms of seizure and I believe that am cure permanently if you need his help email him on

Vanessa Montes said...

Omg, here I am. . I've had a seizure
Now what? I'm scared! It's been 2 days, I feel like crap, I'm dizzy , the room is spinning. . I feel an electric feeling in my brain, and a metallic taste in my mouth, and I'm thinking oh oh is this going to happen again? I lay still and the whole room is spinning.. But it doesn't happen again.
It leaves me with a large headache.
What's going on?
I don't even remember leaving the hospital. Is this normal?
I was upset that no-one helped me, my mom told me they they took care of me immediately
Guess I just needed to vent