Seizure Clusters

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Having epilepsy means that you experience recurrent seizures, and for some people it can include having seizure clusters. Whether you have heard about seizure clusters recently or just want to learn more, here’s where you can find some information to help you better understand and manage them. You can find out what seizure clusters are, who gets them, how they can affect your life, and how to treat them. To learn more about epilepsy in general, you can go here.

What are seizure clusters?

Seizure clusters are a type of seizure emergency in which 2 or more seizures occur in a 24-hour period that are different from someone’s usual seizure pattern. These repetitive or multiple seizures often happen one after the other over a short period of time usually with a recovery period between seizures. Seizure clusters can be different from one person to the next, and they’re not limited to one particular seizure type.

Is there another name for seizure clusters?

Seizure clusters are also known as acute repetitive seizures, serial seizures, crescendo seizures, or seizure flurries, all of which describe the repetitive nature of the seizures.

Who is affected by seizure clusters?

About 150,000-200,000 people with uncontrolled seizures in the U.S. live with seizure clusters. Some people with epilepsy may be more at risk for seizure clusters, even while taking their daily antiseizure medication as directed. Some risk factors for seizure clusters include having frontal lobe epilepsy, head trauma, or poor seizure control. Seizure clusters can affect people with epilepsy regardless of their age or sex. There are also things that can cause or “trigger” a seizure cluster to happen, such as not enough sleep, stress, being sick, fever, and menstruation, but sometimes they can happen out of the blue.

While breakthrough seizures share many of the same triggers, it’s important to know that seizure clusters are different from breakthrough seizures. Remember, seizure clusters are different from a person’s usual seizure pattern. If you’re unsure about whether you or your loved one is experiencing seizure clusters or breakthrough seizures, talk to your doctor.

What are the risks associated with seizure clusters?

Seizure clusters can cause great harm to your health, which is why it’s urgent to treat them. They can make it easier to injure yourself, such as getting scrapes, cuts, and broken bones. About one-third of people with seizure clusters have had injuries that required an emergency room visit. Seizure clusters can also lead to longer, more serious seizures, such as status epilepticus, which is a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes and can become life-threatening.

How can seizure clusters affect someone's life?

Seizure clusters can cause a lot of stress and worry for many people living with them, as well as their caregivers and loved ones, because it’s hard to tell when one will happen, when it will stop, and how much it may affect one’s health or day. Besides the potential for injuries or hospitalization, seizure clusters can really get in the way of school, work, family, and social life. That’s why it’s so important to manage seizure clusters.

How can a seizure action plan help?

Seizure clusters are unpredictable, so it’s hard to tell when or where one will happen, how many seizures will follow, and when will it stop. Knowing what to do when a seizure cluster strikes is important and can help everyone feel more prepared and able to help. Everyone with seizure clusters and their caregivers should have a seizure action plan that includes being able to recognize a seizure cluster, knowing exactly how and when to use a rescue medication if your healthcare provider has prescribed one, and when to seek emergency care. Your healthcare provider can work with you to help create the plan that’s right for you. You can help start the discussion about a seizure action plan with your doctor by visiting the seizure-action-plans page on

What is a rescue medication?

Treating seizure clusters may include the use of a rescue medication, which is given as soon as possible once you know for sure that someone is having a seizure cluster. That’s why it’s so important to have a rescue medication on hand and know when and how to use it in case of a seizure cluster emergency. A rescue medication is a prescribed medication that is taken only when it’s needed to treat a seizure cluster. A rescue medication does not replace taking daily seizure medications, so it’s important for people with seizure clusters to keep taking daily seizure medications as directed by their doctor, and to use their rescue medication only when they have a seizure cluster. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about having or using a rescue medication.


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