What Causes Unresponsive Seizures?

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, unresponsive seizures, otherwise known as status epilepticus, are prolonged or serial seizures that last 30 minutes or more. Status epilepticus is considered a medical emergency.


According to Emedicine, chemicals in brain cells normally create a balance between excitation (stimulating action) and inhibition (stopping action).


When the inhibition chemicals fail to control the excitation chemicals, this imbalance creates excessive electrical discharges that lead to seizures. If this imbalance is extreme, the seizure may progress to status epilepticus.


Depending upon the number and location of brain cells that are firing out of control, a person may have local symptoms, such as twitching on one arm, or more general symptoms, such as a full-body seizure with loss of consciousness.

Risk Factors

Status epilepticus is more common in children under age 1 and adults over 60. If you stop taking seizure drugs, you may go into status epilepticus. Other potential causes include head trauma, stroke, drug toxicity and infections of the central nervous system.


Doctors use a combination of drugs known as anticonvulsants in a planned sequence to stop the excessive electrical activity. The person’s response to those drugs helps determine the underlying cause of the unresponsive seizure.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation