What to Do During a Seizure

What to Do During a Seizure
Doctor sitting at desk and writing a prescription for her patient

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If you witness someone having a seizure, do you know what to do? A seizure can be terrifying, especially if you have never seen anyone having it before. It temporarily affects muscle control, speech, and awareness and may cause the whole body to shake violently. It usually lasts for a few seconds to several minutes. Here are some tips on the actions to take during a seizure.


What to Do During a Seizure

Here are some things to remember when you see someone having a seizure:

  • Just stay calm.
  • Time the seizure in seconds.
  • ŸRemove anything sharp or hard near the person to prevent injuries.
  • ŸClear the airway by gripping the jaw gently and slightly tilting the head back.
  • ŸTurn the body to one side to improve breathing.
  • ŸPlace a folded jacket or anything soft under the head.
  • ŸLoosen clothes around the neck.
  • ŸStay with the person until he/she recovers. Talk calmly to soothe him/her.

What Not to Do During a Seizure

Now that you know what to do during a seizure, here are things not to do when someone has a seizure.

  • Do NOT restrain the person, unless he/she is in danger of bodily harm, such as falling off the stairs.
  • Do NOT open the mouth to place objects or medicines.
  • Do NOT shake or shout at the person.
  • Do NOT attempt to move the person except if there is danger, such as he/she is in the middle of the road.
  • Do NOT attempt CPR unless the person has stopped breathing during the seizure.

Things to Watch For During a Seizure

Aside from learning what to do during a seizure, you must also know how to provide feedback to the doctor after the seizure. Important information include:

  • ŸThe type of movements
  • ŸThe duration of the seizure
  • ŸActivity before the seizure
  • ŸActivity after the seizure
  • ŸAny injuries associated with the seizure

When to Call an Ambulance

Not all seizures require emergency care. Call emergency medical services immediately if:

  • The person stops breathing for more than 30 seconds. Begin providing rescue breaths after calling an ambulance.
  • The seizure is prolonged (more than 3 minutes).
  • It is the first known seizure.
  • The person is pregnant.
  • There is more than one seizure within 24 hours.
  • The person becomes unresponsive within 1 hour or has symptoms like confusion, dizziness, reduced awareness, nausea, vomiting, inability to walk or stand, fever, etc.
  • A seizure is preceded by severe headache.
  • Signs of stroke are present, such as weakness, trouble speaking, and loss of vision.
  • A head injury preceded the seizure.
  • There is a history of diabetes.
  • Poisoning or inhaling fumes occurs before the seizure.
  • Severe pain occurs after waking up.

What to Do After a Seizure

Besides what to do during a seizure, here are also some steps to help someone after a seizure:

  • Check for injuries.
  • Turn the person to the side after the seizure to help breathing if you didn’t do so during the seizure.
  • If the person has trouble breathing, gently clear the mouth of vomit/saliva.
  • ŸMake sure the area is safe for rest to avoid injuries.
  • ŸStay until the person is fully awake and oriented to the surroundings. After a seizure, the person may be confused or sleepy.
  • Ask if he/she needs to go the hospital.
  • Call the person’s families or friends.

How to Treat Seizure

1. Medication

Doctors usually prescribe antiepileptic drugs or anticonvulsants to treat seizures. They may be taken daily for as long as they are needed to control seizures. There are various medications used to treat seizures. Some common anticonvulsants contain phenytoin, valproic acid, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and newer drugs such as fosphenytoin, felbamate, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, gabapentin. These medications may be taken alone or combined with each other to control seizures. If your seizures do not recur, the dosage of your drug may be reduced until it is finally stopped. However, the time period varies, based on the factors related to the conditions or specific problems. Most drugs, including anticonvulsants, have side effects and exhibit drug interactions. Common adverse effects include drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, and blurring of vision. These drugs may also reduce the effect of birth control medications.

2. Surgery

Brain surgery may be indicated if medications do not control seizures. This may involve brain resection, stimulation, or disconnection to treat the condition. Your doctor will discuss your options.