Seeing an epileptic seizure can be a frightening and confusing experience. You may not know how to act in the situation. However, first aid does not require any special skills, and anyone can help someone who has had an epileptic seizure.
Seizures usually last only a few minutes and pass by themselves. It is necessary to go to the hospital if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if the seizures recur so frequently that the person receiving the seizure does not recover in between. Going to a hospital is also necessary when a person experiences their first epileptic seizure.
What to do when a person has a seizure involving unconsciousness
A person having a seizure loses consciousness, falls and their body becomes rigid. Their tongue or cheek can get stuck between the teeth, causing the mouth to bleed. Rigidity is followed by jerking spasms. Breathing stops for a few seconds and saliva or foam may come out of the mouth. Convulsions can be followed by traces of sleep, from which the person can be woken up from.
- Stay calm. Do not try to prevent convulsive movements. Make sure that the person does not hit their head (you can put some form of padding under the head) or otherwise injure themselves during the seizure. A convulsion usually lasts only 1-2 minutes. Do not put anything in their mouth as it will make breathing difficult.
- Turn the person onto their side as soon as the convulsions subside. This ensures that airways remain open and any secretions can drain out of the mouth.
- Make sure that the person can breathe freely and you can feel proper airflow.
- Call the emergency number 112 if a person with epilepsy has a convulsion that lasts longer than 5 minutes or if the seizure occurs again before they have recovered from the previous seizure. If you do not know if the person has epilepsy, call the emergency number 112 after giving immediate first aid.
- Make sure the person hasn’t hurt themselves and has recovered properly, answers questions and knows where they’re going before you leave them. Call the emergency number 112 if the person is not breathing well, is not recovering or is injured during the episode.
What to do when a person has a short term loss of conciousness
A person having this type of seizure seems confused and is not fully aware of their surroundings. They may repeat a certain mechanical movement, for example, walk aimlessly, rub their hands, pick up clothes or make groping motions. Actiona are indistinct, they do not understand what is happening and cannot answer questions accordingly.
- Stay calm. Stay close to the person having the seizure and, if necessary, try to calmly guide them so that they do not injure themselves. A seizure usually lasts only a few minutes.
- Do not try to block the person’s movement, as they will likely resist you.
- Allow for the episode to pass by itself. If this does not happen within 5 minutes, call the emergency number 112.
- Make sure the person is fully recovered, answers questions and knows where they are going before you leave them. Call the emergency number 112 if the person does not recover or is injured during the episode.
Epileptic seizure first aid
Description: Anyone can help a person who has an epileptic seizure.