How to Assist Someone Who is Having a Seizure?

Authored by Dr. Keni Ravish Rajiv, Consultant – Neurology & Epileptology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that hinders our brain activity when it sends messages through cells. This sudden change in electric activity often leads to epileptic seizures.

These seizures can cause a person to lead involuntary movements in the body, like twitching or trembling, that can last for a couple of minutes or cause a person to stare blankly. While epileptic seizures are not always emergencies but if these seizures last for more than 5 minutes, the person may require professional help.

Therefore, to prevent the risk of harm to an epileptic patient, people need to know the crucial first aid steps they can promptly take before medical help arrives.

How to help someone having a seizure?

To prevent any form of casualty to an epileptic person, you can carry out the following steps –

● Create an open space to enable the patient to breathe properly

● Make the person feel comfortable by loosening any tight clothing around their neck.

● Remove any sharp objects like glass, mirror or furniture that may cause an injury to the person.

● Offer support by staying with the person till the episode finishes and place a pillow or a towel under them to prevent them from hurting themselves.

● Track the time of the seizure and share the details with the doctor. A usual seizure lasts between 20 seconds to 2 minutes

● Look for emergency contacts in the person’s bag or wallet to reach out to their family members.

● Avoid placing anything between the person’s jaws or giving them anything to drink until they fully recover.

● Try clearing the airway by turning the person to one side once their movements have stopped. This step is critical because the patient’s tongue moves back during the seizure and blocks their breathing. Therefore, once you have rolled the person on one side, you must also try placing their jaw in the forward direction as it will help in ensuring proper breathing and must drain out any food or vomit from their mouth after the seizure.

When should you call a doctor?
While the signs and symptoms of the seizure can range from mild to severe, however, these symptoms subside within a couple of minutes. If you are witnessing that these symptoms last for more than 5 minutes, then you can call an ambulance based on the following symptoms –

● If the patient is undergoing a second seizure, immediately

● If the person is unresponsive after the seizure

● If the patient is having high fever or heat exhaustion after the seizure

People with other medical conditions like diabetes or pregnant women are more vulnerable, and if you come across any such patient, you must rush to the nearest hospital.

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