Seizures: What to do when you see one

Neurons seizures

Seizures can be a very scary experience both for the person who is having one and the person witnessing it. If you see someone having a seizure make sure you know what you need to do. Here are 9 things you should do when you notice someone having a seizure.

1. Stay Calm

Try not to get into panic mode, so that you are able to help keep the person safe during the seizure.

2. Cushion Head

Place your jacket or something soft under the head so that a more severe head injury does not occur.

3. Turn person onto their side

This will keep the person from choking on their saliva or any vomiting that may occur

4. Do not put anything in the mouth

Contrary to popular beliefs, a person CANNOT swallow their tongue. Placing anything in someone’s mouth during a seizure risks them choking on it, or clenching down hard on it, injuring their jaw.

5. Do not hold the person down

You can cause bodily injury if you try to hold a person down during a seizure.

6. Protect the person from nearby objects

Move any sharp or hard objects away from the person so they don’t hit into them during the seizure. If you must, move the patient away from any dangerous objects.

7. Monitor the situation

Keep note of the length of time of the seizure and what the person is physicaly doing. This information will be very helpful for any emergency personnel that arrives on scene.

8. Stay with the person

Make sure you stay with the person until the seizure stops and the individual is alert. After a seizure, a person may be groggy, confused, and scared because they don’t understand what had just occurred. Stay with them to calm and comfort them. Try to get them to lay and relax.

9. Call for help if:

  • The seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes
  • The person does not resume breathing after the seizure
  • Injury occurs
  • A second seizure begins

*It is important to remember that you cannot stop the person from having a seizure by holding them down, shouting at them or shaking them. You will need to let the sizure ride itself out. Do your best to keep the patient safe during and after the seizure.

Chaim Colen, MD, PhD, is the director of neurosurgical oncology and epilepsy surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Dr. Colen’s medical publishing company,Colen Publishing,  produces patient and resident educational material and operative dictation templates for EMR systems. He is the current chair of the Young Physicians Representative Section of the CSNS and actively involved in socioeconomics in neurosurgery.

Follow Dr. Colen on Twitter: @MyNeurosurgeon

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Written on 2012/07/19 by:

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  • Batenga Mary Bernadette

    Thank you so much for this educative information.  I have shared it with the members of my group (Parents of children with Cerebral Palsy).  Through experience many parents administer anti-convulsion drugs to their children immediately after seizures, and some sedate or over sedate them.  Please advise. 

    Please let us know how one can handle a child who gets changing seizures.  e.g the attacks differ every month.

    Mary Bernadette B.
    Hope for Children with Special Needs (Uganda)
    batengam@yahoo.com
     

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