A seizure is the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to temporary and involuntary changes in body movement, function, sensation, awareness or behavior. Seizures can have many different causes. One common cause is epilepsy, a chronic seizure disorder that can often be controlled with medication. Other causes of seizure include fever, infection, diabetic emergencies, heat stroke and injuries to the brain tissue.
Signs and Symptoms of Seizures
There are different types of seizures. One common type of seizure is called a grand mal seizure. A person having a grand mal seizure loses consciousness and has convulsions(uncontrolled body movements caused by contraction of the muscles). Another common type of seizure is called an absence seizure. The person experiences a brief, sudden lapse of consciousness, causing the person to momentarily become very quiet and have a blank stare.
A person with epilepsy may experience anaura(an unusual sensation or feeling) before the onset of the seizure. If the person recognizes the aura, he or she may have time to tell someone what is happening and sit down before the seizure occurs.
First Aid Care for Seizures
Although a seizure can be frightening to see, it is easy to care for a person who is having a seizure. Most seizures only last a few minutes, and the person usually recovers fully without any complications. If the persons is known to have occasional seizures, it may not be necessary to call 9-1-1 or the designated emergency number.
However, under some circumstances, you should call 9-1-1 or the designated emergency number when a person is having a seizure. Call for help if:
- The seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or the person has multiple seizures in a row.
- The person was injured as a result of the seizure.
- The person is unresponsive and not breathing or only gasping after the seizure.
- The person is pregnant or has diabetes.
- The person is a young child or infant and the seizure was brought on by a high fever.
- The person is elderly.
- This is the person’s first seizure, or the cause of the seizure is unknown.
- The seizure took place in the water.
When a person is having a seizure, do not try to hold the person down or stop the seizure from happening.Just let the seizure run its course and take steps to protect the person from injury. Move furniture or other objects that could cause injury out of the way. The person may be drowsy and disoriented for as long as 20 minutes after the seizure is over.
Check the person for responsiveness and normal breathing. If the person is responsive and breathing normally but not yet fully awake, check the person from head to toe for injuries and
then place the person in the recovery position. Stay with the person until he or she is fully recovered and aware of his other surroundings, or until emergency respondents arrive. If the person is not responsive and not breathing or only gasping after the seizure, begin CPR immediately and use an AED as soon as possible, if you are trained in these skills.
Myth-Information.Myth: Put something between the teeth of person who is having a seizure to prevent the person from biting or swallowing his or her tongue. This practice is unsafe and unnecessary. It is impossible to swallow one’s own tongue. And although the person may bite down on his or her tongue, causing it to bleed, this is a minor problem compared with the problems that can be caused by attempting to put an object in the mouth of a person who is having a seizure.
You could chip a tooth or knock a tooth loose, putting the person at risk for choking. The person may also bite down with enough force to break the object and then choke on a piece of the object. Additionally, attempting to place an object in the person’s mouth puts you at risk for getting bitten.