How to Recognize the Signs of an Epileptic Seizure

The warning signs for a seizure are different for everyone, but some of the common symptoms people report include:

  • a sensation in the pit of your stomach, often described as the feeling of “butterflies” in your stomach;
  • feeling of impending doom or fear;
  • sound or tone like music that is similar each time;
  • difficulty coming up with words or forming clear thoughts;
  • hearing impairment that feels like being underwater;
  • feeling of déjà vu where things are familiar or the opposite feeling where everything seems alien or unrecognizable; or
  • an “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome where everything is distorted, either you feel small and everything else seems large or vice versa.

Many of these symptoms may also be the result of other medical conditions. If you think you or your loved one might have epilepsy, seek care from a primary care physician who will determine if a neurologist visit is needed.

What to Do During an Epileptic Seizure

It’s important to recognize the signs of a seizure so you can help a person stay safe during and after. If a person is not experiencing jerking movements during an epileptic seizure, sit them down to avoid harm or injury, and stay with them until the seizure is gone.

Follow these instructions for jerking seizures: 

  • Roll the person onto their side.
  • Do not put anything in the person's mouth.
  • Loosen clothing around the neck or head area to allow for comfortable breathing (loosen a tie, or unbutton the top of a shirt).
  • Move the person away from anything they might hit if it is safe to do so.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure is over.

Call 911 immediately if someone:

  • experiences a seizure lasting more than two minutes.
  • stops breathing during or after a seizure.
  • loses consciousness and it does not return right away after a seizure.
  • experiences a second seizure immediately after the first.
  • has a high fever along with the seizure.
  • is pregnant and having a seizure.
  • has heat exhaustion.
  • has diabetes and experiences a seizure.
  • was injured during the seizure.

What to Do After a Seizure

When a seizure is over, it’s important to reassure the person and let them know they are safe. Sometimes a person will feel confused or be irritable, so you may need to stay with them for a while until they feel comfortable. If confusion or other symptoms last for a long period of time after a seizure, call 911 or seek medical attention right away.

How to Prevent Seizures

Many people can prevent seizures by:

  • taking seizure medication exactly as prescribed.
  • getting plenty of sleep (sleep deprivation can trigger seizures).
  • avoiding illegal or recreational drugs.
  • not drinking alcohol in excess.
  • not taking prescription medications that may interact with your seizure medications (discuss your current medications with your doctor first before starting any new seizure medications).

When to See a Doctor

If you or a loved one have been experiencing seizures, talk to a primary care provider immediately to get a proper diagnosis and rule out other potential causes. Many primary care providers can diagnose epilepsy and prescribe medication as an initial treatment.

You can also schedule an appointment with one of our neurologists at our epilepsy clinic by calling 801-585-7575. Some insurance plans require a referral from a primary care provider to see a specialist. Our schedulers can request a referral from your primary care provider. You can also contact your insurance carrier for any questions about your coverage.