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Take these Steps for Seizure First Aid

Do you know what to do if someone has a seizure? In support of Epilepsy Awareness Month, be prepared and learn basic seizure first aid to help someone in need.

November 28, 2019 | HF Healthy Living Team

About one in 10 people may have a seizure during his or her lifetime, and it can happen to anyone. That’s why knowing seizure first aid is important.

Although seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy (a chronic brain disorder), a person may have a seizure from many other causes. These can include alcohol and drug abuse, brain infection, head trauma, heart disease, high fever, low blood sugar or sodium, lack of sleep, and even artificial sweeteners like aspartame. In some cases, no cause can be found.

During a seizure, a person’s brain has a sudden burst of electrical activity that can sometimes lead to mild or extreme behavior. Common symptoms include confusion, staring spells, sudden fear or panic, convulsions (whole body shaking), and loss of consciousness.

Most seizures last between 30 seconds and a few minutes and stop on their own. However, some can be unpredictable, and that’s where you can help.

Learn these basic seizure first aid steps to help someone having a seizure.

 Stay calm and time the seizure

  • Remain calm, take control of the situation, and check for a medical ID.
  • Check your watch and note the time the seizure starts. This can help you determine whether medical attention is needed. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call 911.

Keep the person safe

  • Move away any harmful objects, such as anything hard or sharp.
  • If the person is still awake and aware, help them sit down in a safe area.
  • If the person begins to wander, gently guide them away from traffic, train or subway platforms, or heights.
  • Encourage others to step back and give the person space to recover.

Turn the person onto their side if they’re not awake or aware

  • Make the person as comfortable as possible. Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make it hard to breathe.
  • Cushion their head if they’ve fallen to the ground.
  • Turn the person gently on their side to help them breathe.

Don’t restrain the person or put anything in their mouth

  • Don’t stop the person’s movements or hold them down.
  • Don’t put anything in their mouth: no water, pills, or food. Doing so can injure their teeth or jaw. Please be aware that they cannot swallow his or her tongue.
  • Don’t attempt mouth-to-mouth breaths such as CPR. A person having a seizure usually starts breathing again on their own after it passes.

Stay with the person

  • Stay with the person until they have fully recovered.
  • If the person starts choking, turn them on their side, and call for help. If they can’t breathe, call 911 immediately.
  • Be friendly and supportive. The person may feel confused or embarrassed about what happened.
  • Reassure the person they’re safe, and offer to stay with them until they’re feeling okay again.

Call 911 if: 

  • the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or repeats itself.
  • the person has an injury, feels sick, or remains unconscious.
  • the person has trouble breathing and/or is turning blue in the face.
  • the seizure occurs in water.
  • the person says it is a first-time seizure.
  • the person asks for medical attention.
 

©2019 HF Management Services, LLC.

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Sources
“Seizures,” Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 29, 2019.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20365711

“Seizures,” MedlinePlus. Accessed October 29, 2019.
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003200.htm

“First Aid for Seizures – Stay, Safe, Side.” Epilepsy Foundation. Accessed October 29, 2019.
https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/seizure-first-aid-and-safety/first-aid-seizures-stay-safe-side

“Seizure First Aid,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed October 29, 2019.
https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/about/first-aid.htm

“Aspartame and seizure susceptibility: results of a clinical study in reportedly sensitive individuals,” National Institutes of Health. Accessed November 4, 2019.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7614911

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