Did you know about 1 in 10 people may have a seizure during their lifetime? With such a high probability, chances are someone may have a seizure around you at some point. Do you know how to help someone who is having a seizure?
A seizure occurs when parts of the brain have a burst of abnormal electrical signals that interrupt normal signals. There are many kinds of seizures and all of them have varying symptoms. Knowing the signs of the two most common types – grand mal seizures and focal seizures – can prepare you to help someone having a seizure.
Grand Mal Seizures
Seizures come in many forms but grand mal seizures, which are also known as tonic-clonic seizures, are what most people recognize. Grand mal seizures can be recognized by a person:
Sometimes they may also go blue around the mouth due to irregular breathing, and lose control of their bladder or bowels and bite their tongue due to lack of motor function control.
Focal seizures, also known as partial seizures, do not have the severe appearance of grand mal seizures so they may be more difficult to recognize. Some symptoms include a person:
Seizures often happen rapidly. If you are able to identify the onset before a seizure occurs then encourage the person to lay down. Here is how you can help as the seizure begins:
Protect them from injury by removing harmful objects nearby and cushioning their head.
When they come out of a seizure, the person will be disoriented and sore. They will not remember what happened during the episode so calmly explain what happened.
Remembering what not to do when someone is having a seizure is just as important. Incorrectly handling a seizure can make the situation worse. Be sure to avoid the following:
If a person is in a wheelchair then let them remain seated in their chair during the seizure. Put the brakes on to stop the chair from moving and gently support them so they don’t fall out.
According to the CDC, seizures do not usually require emergency medical attention. The CDC suggests calling 911 if:
Oftentimes, a person having a seizure will have some kind of identification card with instructions on who to call or what to do to help. Remember to remain calm and do not crowd around the person having the seizure.
Download the free American Red Cross First Aid app for instant access to step-by-step first aid advice, including advice about seizures and epilepsy.
Learn more about how to respond to seizures safely from Epilepsy Foundation Seizure First Aid and Safety.
Take this free online course from Epilepsy Action First Aid Module to learn what different seizures look like and how to help.
Find out how to prepare for seizure safety based on your profession.
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