Home > Personal Safety Articles > Seizure First Aid - What to Do When Someone Has a Seizure

Seizure First Aid - What to Do When Someone Has a Seizure

A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain, causing a temporary disruption in the normal message passing between brain cells. This disruption results in the brain's messages becoming halted or mixed up. Epilepsy is currently defined as a tendency to have recurrent seizures (sometimes called fits).

Here are some useful tips and first-aid steps for handling seizures:

Keep calm, seizures may appear frightening to the person who is watching the seizure. They usually last only a few minutes and generally do not require medical attention. Remember that the person having a seizure may be unaware of their actions and may or may not hear you.

Protect the person from further injury. If necessary, ease the person to the floor. Move any hard, sharp or hot objects well away. Protect the person's head and body from injury. Loosen any tight neckwear.

Do not insert anything in the person's mouth, as this creates a choking hazard; they will not swallow their tongue. Do not try to force open the mouth as your attempts might break the victim's teeth or cause them other oral injuries.

Talk gently to the person. Comfort and reassure the person to assist them in reorienting themselves. The person may need to rest or sleep. If the person wanders, stay with them.

Do not give the person anything to eat or drink until the person is fully recovered. Don't give them medication by mouth until the seizure has stopped and he or she is completely awake and alert.

You should help them maintain an open airway, note frequency of seizures, types and details of the seizure, time of occurrence, body parts involved, and length of seizure. It is important to monitor vital signs and neurological status as well.

If the person is unconscious, make sure nothing is obstructing the nose or mouth. When you are watching an epileptic attack you should stay very calm and try not to panic.

Don't perform artificial respiration during a seizure, even if the person is turning blue. Most seizures are over long before brain damage from lack of oxygen begins.

Gently put a soft pillow under the head to prevent injury to the head during the seizure. Carefully and gently turn the individual to their side and allow fluids to come out of the mouth.

Always remember, one tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the person regaining consciousness between seizures. So be prepared for the other one if it happens.

Seizures usually last for a short period of time (one to two minutes). If a seizure lasts longer than about five minutes, you should call an ambulance immediately.

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