Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy First Aid | September 8, 2009

Seeing someone have a seizure or having a seizure yourself can be downright scary.

Especially if no one knows what to do.

People would probably like to help rather than standing frozen in place.

And really, first aid isn’t complicated, it just takes some simple common sense.

Here are a few tips you can pass on to others on how to respond to the most noticeable kind — the generalized tonic clonic seizure, or convulsions.

Tell them to:

1. Stay calm and reassuring and try to keep onlookers away.

2. Cushion the person’s head with something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, or even a foot, to prevent head trauma.

3. Loosen tight neckwear to ease breathing.

4. Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.

5. Remove any sharp or solid objects that the person might hit during the seizure.

6. Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue.

7. Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements. Talk to them in a soft voice to reassure them.

8.  Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.

9. Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.

10. Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

Here too, are some suggestions for non-convulsive seizures.

If you see someone having a non-convulsive seizure, remember that the person’s behavior is not intentional. The person may wander aimlessly or make alarming or unusual gestures.

They can be helped by following these simple guidelines:

1. Remove any dangerous objects from the area around the person or in his or her path.

2. Don’t try to stop the person from wandering unless he or she is in danger.

3. Don’t shake the person or shout.

4. Stay with the person until he or she is completely alert.

5. After the seizure ends, the person will probably be groggy and tired. He or she also may have a headache and be confused or embarrassed. Be patient with the person and try to help him or her find a place to rest if he or she is tired or doesn’t feel well.

6. Then tell the person that he/she had a seizure.

7. Make sure he/she is breathing normally.

8. Check his/her awareness by asking a few questions; such as, “Where are you?” and “What day is today?”

9. If necessary, offer to call a taxi, a friend, or a relative to help the person get home safely.

A little compassion and common sense is really all it takes. And knowing what to do can go a long way towards diminishing the fear factor.  So please, keep these tips in mind and pass them on to others so they’ll know what to do.

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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