Many people say that seeing someone having a seizure for the first time is a terrifying experience. Perhaps the most difficult thing for people is the fact there is very little that they can, or should, do.
Most seizures will stop by themselves without the need for any medical treatment, but it is important that you keep the person safe during a seizure to prevent injury.
Managing a convulsive seizure
- Keep calm. This is not always easy, but it is very important, especially when they are recovering from the seizure and are looking to you for reassurance.
- Put something soft under their head to protect it from banging on a hard surface. If you have nothing available to use, cradle the head in your hands or on your lap.
- Do not move the person unless absolutely necessary, e.g. if they are close to a hazard that cannot be moved (such as an open fire).
- Prevent physical injury by moving hazards out of the way (such as furniture).
- If they have a warning (aura), try and get them to sit or lie down so as to reduce the risk of injury.
- Maintain their dignity and privacy as much as possible.
During the seizure
- Keep a record of the seizure, including how long it lasted and what time it occurred and finished.
- Do not restrain their movements.
- Loosen tight clothes around the neck.
- Wipe away excess saliva.
- Stay with them until the seizure stops.
- Never put anything (especially not your fingers) in their mouth.
- Let the seizure run its course.
- When the jerking has stopped, roll them onto their side.
- Write a brief description of the seizure if it differs from the normal type they have.
Only call an ambulance if it is their first seizure; there are any injuries or breathing difficulties; if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or it is 2 minutes longer than their usual seizure length.
Managing a focal seizure
- Reassure them by speaking quietly and calmly to them.
- Protect them from any danger.
- Stay with them until they are fully conscious and any confusion has stopped.
- Keep a record of the seizure, including how long it lasted, what time it occurred and what it looked like.
Young Epilepsy app
The Young Epilepsy mobile app is also a helpful tool for tracking seizures and recording medications. It includes a video function so the seizure can be captured which help with diagnosis and medication.