What to Do When Someone Is Having a Seizure?

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A seizure occurs when the brain becomes overloaded and sends out multiple synchronized, but conflicting, signals. This commonly results in the sudden uncontrollable contraction of muscles throughout the body; revealed through a series of convulsions and sharp, repetitive movements. After the seizure has passed, it is not uncommon for the afflicted individual to report having no memory of the attack or to suffer from short term memory damage. Witnessing a seizure is almost as frightening as having one. Arm yourself with knowledge to use if you ever encounter a situation where someone nearby is suffering from a seizure.

Assistance

Do not panic. Take a deep breath and then assist the afflicted individual by removing anything near them that could cause them harm if struck. Once all potentially dangerous items have been removed, look at your watch. It is important to know the approximate length of the seizure. Do what you can to make the seizure victim comfortable--remove any headwear and loosen collars and ties. Place a pillow or cushion beneath their head if possible. If at any point during the seizure the afflicted individual begins to vomit or seems to have difficulty breathing, roll them on to their side as this can help to keep airways clear and prevent choking. Try to keep a crowd from gathering as this will only make the victim more embarrassed as the seizure subsides. Once you have done what you can to make the victim comfortable and safe, look at your watch again. If five minutes have passed and the victim has not started to recover, call 911 for emergency assistance.

Avoid

Do not attempt to restrain the movements of a seizure victim. They may inadvertently cause harm to either you or themselves in the process. Do not insert any item into the victim’s mouth. Contrary to popular opinion, a seizure cannot actually cause a person to swallow their own tongue.

Do not attempt to give the victim water, juice, or medication of any kind until they have completely recovered from the seizure and are fully aware of their surroundings and situation.

After Care

As the seizure subsides, talk quietly to the afflicted individual. Assure them they are safe; answer their questions, if they have any; and stay with them until they have recovered enough to return to their regular daily routine. If an ambulance has been summoned, stay with the victim until it arrives.

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