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Seizure First Aid for Individuals with Epilepsy

When someone has a seizure, they can be at massive risk of harming themselves. As a bystander, you may want to intervene to help them. However, there are a bunch of myths about the appropriate way to provide care for someone experiencing a seizure. Doing some of them can cause great harm. So, we put together a guide on safely providing first aid for people with epilepsy having a seizure.

If you have a family member with seizures, you must learn to recognize them. Not all seizures involve shaking and involuntary movements, which is what we see in the media. Those are tonic-clonic seizures. It would help if you also learned to recognize other types of seizures to know when someone has one.

If someone is having a seizure, the Epilepsy Foundation recommends the following steps.

  • Stay
  • Safe
  • Side

Stay means that you stay with the person. Please do not leave them to seek aid. Check for medical ID on them if you can safely do so. If you do need help, call 911. Safe means that you try to keep them away from danger. Steer them away from stairs, sharp objects, or other hazards. Do not restrain them unless absolutely necessary for safety (e.g., restraining them to prevent them from falling into traffic). Restraining people puts you both at risk. However, you can often gently guide them. If the person is unconscious and on the ground, loosen any clothing that could restrict their breathing and try to roll them onto their side.

You should also avoid doing things if someone is having a seizure. Do not put things in their mouth. Do not restrain them or hold them down. Do not try to give them mouth-to-mouth or CPR. Finally, do not offer them food or water until they fully recover because it can be a choking hazard.

Finally, you need to know when to call for help. Most seizures do not require you to call 911. Unless the individual gets injured, they may not even need medical attention. However, if a seizure lasts for five minutes or longer, or if a person has multiple seizures in a row without regaining consciousness, that is considered a medical emergency so calling for help is important before administering first aid. The condition is known as status epilepticus and is a medical emergency.

If you have epilepsy, Neuro Center New Jersey can help you develop a personalized plan to deal with seizures. You can share this plan with friends and family so they know how to help you.

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