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What To Do When An Epileptic Seizure Happens?

My Doctor Finder
September 02, 2022

What is an epileptic seizure?

 

An epileptic seizure, aka epileptic convulsions, is a sudden and uncontrolled change of behavior or movement caused by surges of electrical activity in the brain. A person experiencing a seizure will space out and become unresponsive, followed by muscle clenching, jerking limb movements, and loss of consciousness. 

In this article, we will learn the dos and don’ts of taking care of a person having an epileptic seizure. But to gain a deeper understanding of the seizures, let’s look at the disease that causes it, epilepsy.

 

What is epilepsy? 

According to the Department of Health (DOH), epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by repeated seizures. Epilepsy affects the central nervous system and as a result, brain activity becomes abnormal. 

The exact cause of epilepsy is still unclear, however, potential factors of developing epilepsy include genetic history, head trauma, brain abnormalities, infections that affect the brain, stress, lack of sleep, prenatal injury, and developmental disorders. 

A single seizure rarely means a person has epilepsy. However, doctors may diagnose someone with epilepsy if they have two or more seizures.

 

Epileptic Seizure Symptoms

Once triggered by sudden electrical activity changes in the brain, an epileptic will show the following symptoms of an epileptic seizure:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Loss of awareness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Uncontrollable jerking of arms and legs
  • Disturbances of movement

Before the seizures, the epileptic will feel several warning signs such as fear, anxiety, déjà vu, butterflies in the stomach, hearing sounds or music that is similar before each seizure, difficulty forming clear thoughts, etc. 

How long do epileptic seizures last? It depends from person to person but most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes.

If you get diagnosed with epilepsy, it is best to make the people in your household, school, workplace, etc. aware of your condition so they would know how to help you during a seizure.

If you are living, working, or regularly interacting with a diagnosed epileptic, you must know the dos and don’ts of taking care of the person with a seizure.

 

Dos

There is no way to stop a seizure completely once it ceases, but you can protect someone from receiving more harm during one. Here are some things you can do to help them:

  • Check for warning signs. When the person seems to space out, try to talk to them, wave a hand, or shake them a bit to see if they react. If they didn’t, a seizure has begun.
  • Clear any sharp and hard objects that can cause harm. A person will not be aware of his surroundings during a seizure. It’s up to you to keep away any potentially harmful objects to prevent injuries. If the person is on a wheelchair, put the brakes on and leave seatbelts or harnesses on.
  • Cushion their head. Place a pillow or any soft object behind their head to prevent head injuries.
  • Loosen tight clothing. Unbutton neck collars, untie neck ties, or unbuckle their belts to aid breathing.
  • Stay and talk to them calmly until they recover. Never leave a person with a seizure alone to prevent injuries. 
  • Time their seizure. Keeping track of the duration of the seizure can determine if the seizure was too long and if you need to call for medical help.
  • Recovery position. Turn the person on their side (recovery position) after the seizure to keep their airways clear.
  • Call emergency services. If the seizure lasts longer than usual or they get injured during the seizure, call for an ambulance.

If ever a seizure happens in public, try to move the person away to a safer place and keep people back to clear airways.

 

Don’ts

If there are things you must do, there are also those that you must avoid when taking care of a person with seizure. Doing these things can put the person’s life at risk so learning about them is important. 

  • Do not hold the person down
  • Do not stop their movements
  • Keep their mouth clear. Contrary to popular belief, giving the person something to bite down on runs the risk of swallowing or injuring their teeth and jaw.
  • Do not give CPR or any mouth-to-mouth breaths during the seizure. People can usually breathe again on their own after the seizure and you may get bitten if you’re not careful.
  • Do not give them any food or drink until recovery. 

 

Learning any basic first aid procedure, including those for epileptic seizure, is a great asset that can save people’s lives. Take it as your duty to learn about them if you live or regularly interact with people diagnosed with epilepsy. 

It is also beneficial to learn this skill even knowing no person with epilepsy because you will be ready to help in case you encounter a stranger that may have a seizure.

Be informed and prepared!




 

https://doh.gov.ph/Health-Advisory/Epilepsy 

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20365711#:~:text=Tonic%2Dclonic%20seizures%2C%20previously%20known,may%20last%20for%20several%20minutes

 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/epilepsy/evaluation-of-a-firsttime-seizure#:~:text=General%20symptoms%20or%20warning%20signs,Stiffening%20of%20the%20body 

 

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/dos-and-donts-of-seizures

 

https://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/epilepsy-seizure-what-to-do-in-an-emergency 

 

https://healthcare.utah.edu/neurosciences/neurology/epilepsy/seizure-warning-signs.php

 

https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Epilepsy#:~:text=Epilepsy%20is%20a%20disorder%20of,impulses%20in%20an%20orderly%20pattern.

 

https://www.epilepsy.com/what-is-epilepsy

 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/first-aid/recovery-position/

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20365711 

 

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