Knowing the first aid for seizures is an important aspect in helping to save the lives of people who suffer from epilepsy especially for tonic- clonic seizures. These types of seizures can be very unpredictable with their uncontrollable jerking movements, as well as the other symptoms that come along with it. Some people are often scared to be around others who have a chronic medical condition like epilepsy and do not know exactly what to do in case a seizure may occur. I can reassure you guys, there is absolutely no reason to worry. The only thing that you should do is take the precautions and perform the necessary first aid for seizures and stay calm throughout it all. Well, with me, I have complex partial seizures and simple partial seizures. There is not much someone can do when I seize. The only time I go to the hospital is if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or the symptoms are really severe. Here are a few precautions you should take in case you witness someone having a seizure.
Tonic- Clonic Seizures
- Stay calm.
- Help the person lie down. Put something soft under his or her head and neck. Make sure that there are no sharp or hard objects near the person’s face. If so, move them.
- Time the seizure.
- Roll the person over to one side with the head and mouth angled toward the ground so that the person does not choke or swallow on any excessive saliva. This position will also prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway.
- Loosen all tight clothing such as belts, skirts, pants and top buttons. Remove eyeglasses or tight neck chains.
- Do not hold the person down. By doing this, you may cause a bone dislocation or get injured.
- Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. The person is incapable of swallowing their tongue. The muscles for chewing are strong. So, a finger may be bitten, or an object may be bitten causing the person to choke on it.
- During a seizure, a person may stop breathing and their skin may turn blue at the peak of a seizure. As long as they start breathing again and color returns after the seizure ends, they should be okay. If it doesn’t, call emergency.
- After the seizure is over, do not try to restrain the person. The person may claim to be okay but they may still be confused. Use a calm voice and try to keep the person in a safe environment.
- Do not give pills, beverages, or food to the person until the person is fully alert.
- Stay with the person until he or she is fully alert and oriented. The person may not know what happened. Ask a series of questions that require more than a yes or no question.
- Call an ambulance if: (1) it is the person’s first seizure, (2) the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, (3) there is more than one seizure, (4) there is a significant injury such as head trauma, and (5) there are problems with breathing after the seizure ends.
- During the seizure and afterwards, keep others away. They may cause embarrassment and more confusion.
- After the seizure is over, the eyewitness should tell the person what happened and the duration of the seizure, and, most importantly provide gentle reassurance and support.
Atonic And Tonic Seizures
Atonic seizures and tonic seizures can often cause sudden falls that can also cause severe injuries. Because the seizure may happen within a few seconds of the seizure onset, it may be impossible to prevent. Patients who have atonic seizures or tonic seizures without warning should use protective headgear to prevent injury.
Complex Partial Seizures
- Speak quietly and in a reassuring manner, because some people can react to emotional or physical stimulation.
- Do not yell at the person or restrain him or her unless absolutely necessary, which is rare.
- Keep the person safe from harm.
- If someone has unusual automatisms, he or she should be led in a quiet and reassuring manner out of public places.
- Keep the person away from dangerous situations.
Simple Partial Seizures
Simple partial seizures rarely need first aid. Since the person’s consciousness is restored during the seizure, they always know what is happening. When simple partial seizures progress into complex partial seizures or secondary generalized tonic- clonic seizures, the person should be cautiously and quietly moved to a safe environment and stop driving and working with dangerous equipment.
Absence seizures usually do not require first aid. They are brief and are almost never associated with falling or injuries. If absence seizures occur in a cluster, the person should be removed from sports and other potentially dangerous activities during the cluster period. Absence seizures can very rarely go into absence status epilepticus. If this happens, medications can be given by mouth, under the tongue, between the lips and gum, or rectum to stop the seizure. Medical attention must also be sought.
Source: “Epilepsy: Patient And Family Guide” by Orrin Devinsky, MD