After a seizure, a person may be in an altered state of consciousness or feel dizzy or confused. It can help to take it easy and have strategies for dealing with common symptoms, such as headache or fatigue.

The period immediately following a seizure is called the postictal seizure state, and it usually lasts 5–30 minutes. Knowing what to do after a seizure to feel better can help a person return to typical activities more quickly, especially if they have epilepsy or frequent seizures.

A seizure is not usually a medical emergency, especially if a person has a history of seizures. However, some people may need medical care, particularly if they have never had a seizure.

Read on to learn more about what to do after a seizure to feel better.

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In the period after a seizure, the brain’s electrical activity changes. It is not as chaotic as during the seizure but has not yet returned to baseline. Often, this is due to delta waves. Delta waves are slow-moving brain waves linked to healing sleep and relaxation. When they slow down, it triggers numerous changes in the brain, which can affect the body and the brain’s ability to rebalance.

Some common symptoms include:

According to some estimates, 30% of people who have seizures do not remember them, and about 25% remember all their seizures. This means that a person may have questions about what has just happened.

The type of seizure a person has may also influence the symptoms, which can include problems with visual or verbal memory.

People who have cognitive impairments before the seizure may take longer to recover following a seizure.

Learn more about temporal lobe epilepsy.

A person does not need to eat any specific food after having a seizure. However, it is important that people following specialty seizure diets, such as the keto diet, continue to follow their diets.

People with known diet-related seizure triggers, such as those with diabetes who have seizures when their blood glucose gets too high, should eat accordingly.

For most people, eating a snack containing protein and fiber, such as cheese and berries, grilled chicken on whole wheat bread, or a similar option, may help them feel better if they have low energy after a seizure.

Learn more about the keto diet and epilepsy.

Many people feel fatigued or dizzy after a seizure, so lying down after a seizure might help ease symptoms.

Avoiding activity can also reduce the risk of falls and accidents as a person’s mental activity returns to baseline.

While the postictal period is usually short, some people have low energy for several days. People should listen to their bodies, rest, and stay off work or school if necessary.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a seizure.

Some people have muscle weakness after a seizure. A person may also experience dizziness or confusion that makes movement feel difficult.

After a seizure, moving slowly and avoiding lifting heavy objects, driving, or operating other machinery until strength returns is a good idea.

People with significant movement impairments may need assistance for several hours after the seizure. Consider setting up an area to sit and relax, with easy access to water and entertainment, until the ability to move about safely returns.

Learn more about muscle weakness.

A seizure can be scary, and some people may feel anxious about it or its cause afterward.

They may also experience changes in their mental state due to seizure-related brain changes. For example, they may experience periods of depression, psychosis, mania, or crying. These symptoms may last for a few minutes to a few days, depending on the type of seizure.

People who have seizures might want to consider working with loved ones and a healthcare professional to develop a self-care plan. Some things to think about include the following:

  • developing strategies to help feel safe and calm after a seizure
  • having a list of people to call after a seizure
  • doing activities that help a person feel better after a seizure, such as watching a favorite show or curling up in bed with a good book
  • knowing whether spending time with others or being alone helps
  • walking or playing with a pet

Because seizures can affect a person’s overall well-being, including their ability to move, they may need to adapt their usual self-care strategies. For instance, they might watch a movie while cuddling their dog rather than take it for a walk.

Learn more about emotional well-being and mindfulness strategies.

A person might choose to contact a doctor if:

  • They have a seizure for the first time.
  • They believe an underlying medical issue, such as an infection, triggered the seizure.
  • The pattern of their seizures changes.
  • They begin having more frequent seizures.

They should go to the emergency room if they fall or experience a head injury during a seizure. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, bystanders should call 911.

Learn what to do for different types of seizures.

Having a seizure can be scary. They cause intense bursts of electrical activity in the brain that takes time to return to baseline, so it is not unusual to feel different after a seizure.

This period is short for most people, but some continue to have symptoms for several days after a seizure.

Treatment to reduce the frequency of seizures may also help reduce the time a person spends managing post-seizure symptoms.