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Discharge Instructions for Epilepsy

You have been diagnosed with epilepsy, a disorder of recurring seizures. When you have a seizure, an electrical disturbance happens in your brain. There are different kinds of seizures, and each person may have one or many types of seizures. Here are some guidelines for you and your family.

If you have a seizure

Ask friends and family members to learn how to manage a seizure. Also tell them to do the following if you have a seizure:

  • Clear the area to prevent injury.

  • Position you on a flat, carpeted surface, if possible.

  • Don’t try to restrain you.

  • Don’t put anything in your mouth.

  • Turn you onto your side if you start to vomit.

  • Keep track of the date and time the seizure started, how long it lasted, if you lost consciousness, a description of your body movements, what provoked the seizure (if known), and any injuries you suffered. Using a watch may help keep correct time of events.  

  • Stay with you until you regain consciousness.

  • Call 911 if the seizure is longer than 5 minutes, if there are multiple seizures, or if you don't start to wake up after the seizure stops.  

You'll will probably be confused and drowsy after the seizure. Rest until you feel recovered enough to continue your pre-seizure activity.


Following are some things to consider:

  • Enjoy your normal activities. Most people with epilepsy lead normal lives.

  • Don't do hazardous activities, such as mountain climbing or scuba diving. A seizure under these conditions could lead to a fatal accident.

  • Many other activities can be very dangerous if you were to have a seizure. If you are on a ladder or roof or operating heavy equipment or sharp tools, you could be seriously injured. Talk with your healthcare provider about any activities you are unsure of.

  • Don't swim alone or take part in other similar activities without others nearby.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about any restrictions on driving or other activities.

  • Check with your state department of public safety to learn whether there are any driving limits based on your condition. Each state has different laws on driving after seizures.

Other home care

Other considerations:

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed. Skipping doses can affect the way your body handles the medicine, which could cause you to have a seizure.

  • Don’t drink alcohol or use any medicine without talking with your provider first.

  • Make sure all of your healthcare providers have a list of all your medicines. Seizure medicines may interact with other medicines.

  • Ask your provider what to do if you take birth control pills. They may not work as well when taking seizure medicines.  

  • Think about how to keep small children safe if you are caring for them when you have a a seizure.

  • Wear a medical alert pendant or bracelet that alerts others to your condition. The ID should include any medicine allergies

  • Join a local support group. Ask your provider for names and phone numbers.

  • Talk with your provider if you are trying to become pregnant. Some medicines for treating epilepsy and seizures can cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Folic acid may reduce the risk for some of these birth defects. Ask your provider if you should take folic acid or take other precautions.

Call 911

Tell your family members or friends to call 911 right away if you have:

  • Seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes

  • Multiple seizures in a row

  • Not regained consciousness after the seizure stops

When to call your healthcare provider

You or your family members or friends should call your provider right away if you have:

  • Seizures that are getting longer and worse

  • Seizures that are different from those you’ve had in the past

  • Questions about missed medicines or medicine interactions

  • Seizures strong enough to cause injury

  • Medicine side effects

  • Skin rash

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms

© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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