A seizure is a change in behavior that occurs after abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Some people having seizures convulse uncontrollably, while others may seize with very minimal symptoms. Seizures aren’t always life threatening or even especially serious. Often, it’s what happens during the seizure that presents the greatest danger. Thus, knowing what and what not to do can make all the difference.
What Causes Seizures?
Seizures usually have several different causes. Seizures may be caused by missed medication, hormone fluctuations, excessive use or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, illness or fever, a brain tumor or infection, or a head injury, to name a few. For those who have epilepsy, an external stimulus or internal stimulus may cause seizures.
Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t Put Anything in the Mouth: Though it was once believed that you should put a spoon inside the mouth of a person seizing, this is actually not recommended; it’s impossible for someone seizing to swallow their tongue. For this reason, nothing should be placed in the mouth. Doing so can present a choking hazard, cause you to get bitten, or break the seizing person’s teeth.
Don’t Hold the Person Down: People who are seizing, even when they are small, exhibit a lot of strength. Holding them down puts you both at risk for injury.
Don’t Give Mouth to Mouth: Resuscitating someone who is having a seizure should not be done until the seizure is over. Once they have stopped seizing (and if they aren’t breathing) resuscitation can begin.
Don’t Call 911: The majority of seizures–though scary–are not actually medical emergencies. Calling 911 can do more harm than good, particularly if you are dealing with a child or someone who fears hospitals. It also costs a lot of money for the seizing person, money they may not need to spend if their seizure is of a known condition to them. Instead, 911 should only be called if the person seizing is injured, if the seizure is extreme or lasts more than five minutes, if the person seizing is pregnant or has underlying medical conditions, if the seizure happens in water (such as in a swimming pool), or if the person has more than one seizure in a short amount of time. Obviously, 911 should also be called if the seizing person stops breathing.
The do’s of seizures include:
Do Protect the Person from Injury: This is the main goal during a seizure. In order to do this, lay the seizing person on the ground, clear the area of any objects they can grab (including large items like furniture and small items like letter openers), and cushion the person’s head.
Do Loosen Tight Clothing: If the person seizing is wearing tight clothes, try to loosen them the best you can. This is particularly important for tight clothing around the neck. While loosening clothing, check for a medical ID bracelet. This may contain instructions on what to do.
Do Turn the Person On Their Side: Turning the person on their side can help make sure that they don’t swallow or inhale their own vomit.
Do Remain With the Person: Be sure to stay with the person seizing until the seizure is fully over or–if you’ve called 911–until medical help arrives.
Do Cool the Person Down: Sometimes, particularly in children, a high fever can be the reason a seizure occurs. If you believe this to be a reason, cool the child slowly with lukewarm water. However, you should refrain from placing them in a cold bath.
This article was written by Laura Green. Laura knows that seizures can be scary and caused by many different things, from brain injuries to neurological disorder. She recommends reading this article to if you have someone in your life who is effected by seizures.