Managing seizures

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.

NB Young Epilepsy are currently reviewing our information portfolio which will be updated in October 2023.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Also in this section

More information about epilepsy

Epilepsy syndromes

A syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms which, if they occur together, can suggest a particular condition

Epilepsy & contraception

It is important that all teenagers are given information about the effects of AEDs on contraception and pregnancy before they become sexually active

Epilepsy & pregnancy

Some medication can have an effect on the development of the baby so it's important that you discuss planning a pregnancy with your consultant, epilepsy nurse or GP

Causes of epilepsy

The causes of epilepsy generally falls into three groups; genetic, structural/metabolic or unknown

Diagnosing epilepsy

Getting a diagnosis of epilepsy can often take some time. Only until there have been two or more seizures that a diagnosis of epilepsy will be considered

Epilepsy treatment

The main aim of treating epilepsy is to improve the person's quality of life by preventing seizures but also causing minimum side effects