A medical alert bracelet is extremely important if you have epilepsy or a seizure disorder. When seconds count, having a medical alert bracelet may be the difference between a "typical" seizure and one that causes permanent brain damage.
Epilepsy is an electrical disorder of the brain that causes seizures, which are uncontrollable convulsions. While it can be frightening for those who witness one, a typical seizure lasts less than two minutes and resolves quickly. The patient emerges confused, but usually unharmed (though injury may occur1). On the other hand, some seizures can last a long time. This type of seizure is status epilepticus, and it can be life threatening. Without rapid treatment, status epilepticus can be fatal. For this reason, everyone with epilepsy or other seizure disorder should have a medical alert bracelet to notify emergency medical personnel about their condition.
There really is no such thing as a “typical” seizure, but some features are common to most. Seizures usually occur without warning, though some people may get a premonition or “aura” just before the event. A person may or may not lose consciousness during the seizure, depending on how far the abnormal electrical activity travels in the brain. Even if a person does not lose consciousness during the seizure, they may not be fully aware or be able to communicate.
Once the seizure begins, people may begin to convulse or shake uncontrollably. In absence seizures, the only sign of the seizure may be staring off into the distance—no shaking at all. Within two minutes, usually, the seizure is over. At this point, the patient may have a brief “post-ictal” period in which they are confused and unable to communicate.
Not every seizure causes widespread convulsions. To someone watching the seizure, it may look as though the person is simply passed out. In fact, a person having an absence seizure may not even fall over—they may just seem to be ignoring you. Caregivers learn to recognize the kind of seizures their loved ones have; however, this behavior can be confusing to people who don’t know that patient. In fact, medical personnel do not always do a great job at recognizing seizures without additional medical information. A medical alert bracelet that indicates a person has epilepsy or other seizure disorder provides important information to medical providers.
Status epilepticus is a seizure that lasts greater than five minutes. When a seizure goes on for too long, it can increase the chance that brain cells die, leading to permanent brain damage. The chance of dying from status epilepticus increases with age; 13% of young adults die from status epilepticus, but the death rate is over 50% in people older than 80.3 Importantly, the death rate among people with obvious status epilepticus seizures is 27%, but a frightening 65% in people with subtle status epilepticus seizures. This means that the risk of death increases dramatically if the seizure is not recognized and treated early.