Recognizing and Responding to Seizures: Stay Prepared for Critical Moments

A seizure is an abnormal electrical activity in the brain, often stemming from epilepsy—a chronic condition that can develop at any age. However, seizures can also be triggered by emergencies like head injuries, low blood sugar, or poisoning. While most seizures are brief and not life-threatening, understanding the causes, signs, and appropriate first aid actions is crucial. This article delves into the various triggers of seizures, the signs to watch for, and the essential steps to help someone during and after a seizure.

Stay informed and prepared to act effectively in such critical situations.

What Causes a Seizure?

A seizure is an abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Most seizures stop within a few minutes and are often caused by a medical condition called epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic condition and can develop at any age. Its exact cause may vary from person to person.

But seizures can also be caused by life-threatening emergencies such as head injuries, low blood sugar, heat-related injuries, poisoning, sudden cardiac arrest, etc.

What causes Seizures?

 

NOTE: Epilepsy itself is not typically life-threatening, and the person having a seizure due to epilepsy usually recovers after a few minutes. However, if you witness someone having a seizure and you do not know their medical condition, you must call EMS immediately to ensure they receive appropriate medical attention.

Signs of a Seizure

The signs of a seizure may differ because there are various types of seizures. Seizure symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and individuals may experience combinations of different seizure types.

Some people who are having a seizure may:

  • Fall to the ground
  • Lose muscle control
  • Have jerking movement of the arms, legs, and sometimes other parts of the body
  • Stop responding

Not all seizures involve jerking movements (convulsions) with the loss of responsiveness. Other people might only have a brief loss of awareness with a glassy-eyed stare.

Signs of a seizure

 

NOTE: If you witness someone having a seizure, you may consider recording a video of the episode (with permission), and share the video with medical professionals upon the arrival of the ambulance. This can greatly assist paramedics and doctors understand the type of seizure and provide appropriate care.

Actions to Help a Person during a Seizure

The most important first aid action for a person having a seizure is to protect the person from injury.

Follow these first aid action steps to help someone during a seizure:

  1. Make sure the scene is safe: Ensure your safety and the safety of the individual. Clear the area of any sharp or harmful objects to prevent injury.
  2. Recognize the medical emergency: Be aware of the signs and symptoms of seizure and understand when the situation requires immediate medical attention.
  3. Clear the mouth: Remove everything from the person's mouth, but do not put your fingers or any object inside the person's mouth.
  4. Protect the person's head: Place something soft (like a folded jacket or cushion) under their head to prevent head injury.
  5. Do not restrain the person or try to hold them down: Allow the seizure to run its course.
  6. Seek for medical assistance: Call your local emergency number and get the first aid kit and AED.
    1. If you do not know the person's medical condition.
    2. If it is the person's first seizure.
    3. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
    4. If the person is injured during the seizure, especially if they hit their head or sustain other injuries.
    5. If the person has a known history of seizures but the current seizure is different from their usual seizures.
    6. If the person is pregnant, diabetic, or has other medical conditions that could complicate the seizure.
  7. Time the seizure: If you witnessed the onset of the seizure, note the time it began and monitor the duration of the seizure.
  8. Consider filming the seizure: If you witness someone having a seizure, you may consider recording a video of the episode (with permission), and share the video with medical professionals upon the arrival of the ambulance.
  9. Wait for the seizure to stop: Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
First aid actions during a seizure

 

NOTE: During a seizure, a person may bite the tongue, cheek, or mouth. You can give first aid for that injury after the seizure is over.

Actions to Help a Person after a Seizure

Follow these first aid action steps to help someone after a seizure.

  1. Time the seizure: Take note of the time when the seizure concluded.
  2. Check if the person is breathing: Quickly check if the person is responsive and breathing.
  3. The person is breathing normally: If the person is unresponsive and breathing normally, roll him onto his side (recovery position).
  4. The person is not breathing normally: If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally or is only gasping, give CPR.
  5. Maintain body temperature: Ensure that the person is kept warm during and after the seizure.
  6. Check for Injuries: If the person has bitten her tongue, cheek, or mouth and is bleeding, give first aid after the seizure. [1]
  7. Monitor and stay: Stay with the person until someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over.
First aid actions after a seizure

NOTE: After a seizure, it is not unusual for the person to be slow to respond, confused, or even to fall asleep.

Conclusion

Understanding the causes, signs, and first aid actions for seizures is crucial in providing effective assistance. Seizures, often linked to epilepsy, can also result from other emergencies like head injuries or low blood sugar. While most seizures are not life-threatening and resolve within minutes, immediate medical attention is essential if you are unsure of the person's condition or if the seizure is atypical.

By recognizing symptoms, protecting the individual from injury, and seeking prompt medical help, you can make a significant difference in their safety and recovery. Always stay informed and prepared to respond to seizure emergencies effectively.

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